Blue Lights, Green Energy: Emergency One Receives Funding for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Project
Emergency One, the UK’s leading manufacturer of firefighting and rescue vehicles, has been awarded grant funding to produce a prototype of a hydrogen fuel cell-powered fire appliance. The concept behind this is to explore the potential of hydrogen as a clean alternative fuel for emergency vehicles. Other partners in the project with Emergency One include Altair Ltd for vehicle energy system modelling, along with ULEMCo Technical Services (UK) Ltd for cooling capability.
Emergency One and their partners have been awarded £3.9 million by the government, matched by industry to a total of £7.9 million, for a major project with Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) to develop solutions for hydrogen-powered vehicles. The ‘HYER Power’ project will develop a hydrogen fuel cell range extender module that will integrate into electric vehicles used for specialist applications such as ambulances, fire engines and street sweepers.
This news follows Emergency One’s success with their fully electric-powered fire engine range E1 EV0™. The company’s first E1 EV0™ was launched in 2020 and marked the world’s first fully electric fire appliance. Emergency One aims to demonstrate the feasibility of hydrogen-powered solutions for use in firefighting and other emergency response applications, with the ultimate goal of promoting the adoption of clean energy solutions in the emergency services sectors.
One advantage of hydrogen fuel cell technology is that it produces no harmful emissions, only water vapour, making it a greatly sustainable and environmentally friendly option. In addition, fuel cells are highly efficient and can provide long-range operation with quick refuelling, making them a solution for emergency services that need to operate in remote areas or for extended periods of time.
“We are thrilled to have been awarded funding for this project and look forward to the continuation of improving our innovations where possible.”, said Chester Smith, Director at Emergency One (UK) Ltd. “Low emission appliances have been an ongoing project at E1, one of which has proven to be difficult but not impossible given the unique set of challenges fire engines face. This investment into cleaner solutions for emergency responders is a step in the right direction and we are lucky enough to be at the forefront of what we believe is industry-leading innovation.”
Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) will provide the customer input, trialling and dissemination, and the work will lead to a manufacturing-ready, zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell-based range extension system for electric drivetrains. The zero-emission range extender used for HYER Power will apply existing, proven fuel cell technology from the Toyota Mirai, and will demonstrate how zero-emission vehicles can be used in a wide range of specialised and challenging settings.
Rob MacDougall, Chief Fire Officer for Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service is absolutely committed to acting towards our net zero targets and building on the work we have already done to move part of our fleet away from internal combustion engines. Heavy fire engines pose a particular challenge, and we feel that hydrogen-powered fuel cells can play a promising role in delivering on the county’s climate action ambitions.”
Councillor Pete Sudbury, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, said: “Hydrogen could play an important role in our efforts to decarbonise, especially where battery-powered electrification is challenging in heavy-duty vehicles like fire engines. I’m delighted that we are partnering with ULEMCo on this important step in exploring and advancing zero-carbon solutions. The county council’s fire & rescue service will provide operational insight while the council’s unique Innovation Hub along with the Climate Action team will work with ULEMCo to facilitate the project.”
The funding has been awarded through the Advanced Propulsion Centre Collaborative Research and Development programme, in support of ambitions to build an end-to-end supply chain for zero-emission vehicles in the UK. It is expected that the hydrogen fire engine, which will be named the E1 HV0™, will be complete by the end of 2024.
“We are delighted to see this recognition and commitment to developing hydrogen mobility as part of the solution to net zero”, said Amanda Lyne, Managing Director of ULEMCo. “Hydrogen is essential for viable zero-emission solutions in applications such as emergency response vehicles due to the rapid refuelling that enables the vehicle to be ‘fit-to-go’, and to provide the full flexibility and range required for the job. The packaging constraints and the overall energy demand needed for these vehicle drivetrains as well as the onboard equipment, mean that hydrogen solutions are the most cost-productive route to transition to zero-emission fleets. Our strong relationship with OCC will enable us to make rapid progress moving to production-ready hydrogen fuel cell designs.”
This cutting-edge work is going to mean clean, green vehicles designed and built in the UK can increasingly take on the toughest jobs, from haulage to public transport”, said Nusrat Ghani, Minister for Industry and Investment Security. “Our automotive industry keeps setting the pace globally when it comes to seizing the potential of new technologies. Today’s multi-million-pound boost will help them stay ahead of the international competition while continuing to support high-quality jobs and economic growth.”