Automotive

London to trial hydrogen electric rapid response ambulance prototype

London to trial hydrogen elect...
The zero (local) emissions ambulance prototype will be built and delivered to the London Ambulance Service later this year
The zero (local) emissions ambulance prototype will be built and delivered to the London Ambulance Service later this year
View 1 Image
The zero (local) emissions ambulance prototype will be built and delivered to the London Ambulance Service later this year
1/1
The zero (local) emissions ambulance prototype will be built and delivered to the London Ambulance Service later this year

Hydrogen commercial vehicle conversion company ULEMCo and industry partners have agreed the design of a new fuel cell rapid response ambulance prototype that's destined to hit the streets of London later this year.

The vehicle is dubbed the ZERRO ambulance, which stands for Zero Emission Rapid Response Operations, and is being funded by the UK's Office for Zero Emission Vehicles – a cross government group working to support the transition to zero (local) emission vehicles.

The electric drive prototype will feature a 92-kWh battery pack and a hydrogen fuel cell range extender comprising a 30-kW fuel cell from Ballard and 8 kg of H2 storage on board. The ambulance is being designed for a top speed of 90 mph (145 km/h) and a targeted average daily range of 200 miles (320 km).

The drivetrain, chassis and bespoke body of the vehicle are being manufactured by Woodall Nicholson Group’s Mellor, Promech Technologies and VCS Limited. VCS has experience in the field, last year producing the UK's first all-electric ambulance in the shape of the Electric Dual Crewed Ambulance that began trials in the West Midlands on October. While Promech will leverage its existing battery technology and expertise. Other project partners Ocado and Lyra Electronics bring the former's practical experience in using electric vehicles and the latter's specialist DC-DC electronics capabilities to the design.

The new ZERRO vehicle will have the ability to haul a payload of at least 900 kg and benefit from a low access floor to negate the need for patient lifting equipment to be included.

"The aim of the project is to show that this weight target can be met with the combination of this powertrain configuration and the lightweight structure, and using a low floor design rather than needing to include heavy lifting equipment, alongside work to integrate the internal electrical power needs within overall vehicle electrical system design," said ULEMCo.

After a year spent working on the design phase of the project, ULEMCo and partners now plan to build and deliver the fully approved working prototype to the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust by the (northern) fall of 2021.

Source: ULEMCo

7 comments
paul314
I take it range anxiety in the usual sense isn't that much of a problem, but idle power draw might be a bear.
FB36
Hydrogen is no ordinary fuel, as it is explosive!
Research Hindenburg & Challenger disasters for example!
This would not look good, whenever any traffic accident or gas leak triggers a massive explosion!

Do you really think hydrogen vehicles get collision safety tests done w/ their gas tanks are full (as they would be in real world traffic accidents!)?
Spud Murphy
More hydrogen stupidity, it's just wasted money, they are better off sticking with petrol powered vehicles as the emissions will be lower, and then shifting to BEVs. Hydrogen systems are terribly inefficient and as nearly all H2 comes from fossil fuels (steam reformation of natural gas), CO2 emissions of H2 vehicles are higher than an efficient petrol vehicles. I'm so tired of uneducated, ignorant bureaucrats and politicians wasting taxpayer $ on the hydrogen white elephant, just because it sounds good to the equally uneducated public and helps get them re-elected.
martinwinlow
@Spud Murphy - Bang on. Countless major auto-makers have tried and *all* have failed. Even Toyota has effectively thrown in the towel (the only company to bring a 'mass-market' - and it isn't really even that - H2FC vehicle to the masses). The latest penny-dropping moment occurred only last week when heavy goods vehicle maker Scania give up its research project into H2FCs. Then, a few months back, we had Nikola pretty much do the same (tho' they are still trying to con all their backers into believing its all still going to happen).

This sort of nonsense is nothing more than a thinly veiled 'get rich quick' scheme for HMGs acolytes. Enough!

Quite why it needs a 200 mile range anyway is a complete mystery (unless its because most ambulances spend half their day driving from one overflowing A&E to another. 100 miles should be ample - assuming the crew can rapid charge during the refs break... and I'd have thought the best part of a 100Ah battery - even for a vehicle like an ambulance which must have the aerodynamics of a house brick - would give it next to 200 miles range (in town) anyway.
Brian M
Now that's the way to go!
Brian M
@FB36
Unfortunately any fuel is dangerous, petrol can be lethal when escaped, think boats exploding, cars catching fire after an accident etc.

Yes hydrogen is explosive at 4 percent to 74 percent concentration in air and ignites about 10x easier than petrol, but with precautions and technics it can be made acceptably safe (can never be 100% safe)

There are also techniques being developed to capture hydrogen into other compounds to make it easier to handle, as reported recently here in your favorite tech and science news site!
AngryPenguin
@ FB36 What do you think fuel is supposed to be?