Visitors to COP26 in Glasgow have been viewing the world’s first hydrogen-fuelled ambulance, created by ULEMCo, the UK hydrogen fuel pioneer, and its partners.
The working prototype vehicle incorporates a hydrogen fuel cell in the powertrain, can be refuelled quickly and is capable of up to a 300-mile range.
Named for Zero Emission Rapid Response Operations ambulance, the ZERRO project was originally started by Yorkshire Ambulance Service, where their range requirements require the flexibility that hydrogen can provide. It will in the meantime be trialled by the London Ambulance Service, where they can gain access to the public refuelling stations around London. The project led by ULEMCo, with expert partners including Mellor, Promech Technologies, Lyra Electronics and VCS, and supported by Innovate UK and NHS England & NHS Improvement, is aiming to show best in class zero-emission operation for urban and rural use.
ULEMCo says innovations built into the ambulance include a hydrogen fuel cell range extender with an electric drive, a low-frame chassis and a bespoke lightweight ambulance body. Specific features such as the low-access floor and a frame-based body enable it to meet the payload requirements of the service, and the hydrogen fuel cell ensures productivity of the asset with fast and flexible refuelling.
In Glasgow, the prototype ambulance is being shown along with the hydrogen fuel cell modules on an NHS exhibition stand. International leaders and climate experts have the chance to see the ambulance close up.
Following COP26, the ambulance, which can both recharge and refill, will be trialled in London, to test its operational flexibility and fit for purpose. NHS England and NHS Improvement plan to work with ambulance trusts to trial the ambulance across England, and develop an operational plan to roll out zero emission ambulances.
“With further investment and infrastructure, it is hoped that zero emissions ambulances could be deployed throughout the NHS,” said spokesperson for the NHS.
For the partners, Amanda Lyne, md of ULEMCo, said: “A great deal of hard work from the industrial partners has gone into bringing the ZERRO project to this stage. We believe this is a key milestone in the development of hydrogen mobility, and shows what can be achieved today to achieve zero emissions from HGV and utility vehicles.”