Hydrogen coach project builds speed

Written by: Andrew Wade | Published:

A pan-European research programme exploring hydrogen power for passenger coaches has added Coventry University to its list of partners.

Launched earlier this year, CoacHyfied is now a 14-strong consortium featuring academic and industry partners seeking to integrate hydrogen into mass transport. The €7m project is investigating both retrofit and new-build hydrogen fuel cell solutions to tackle the significant carbon emissions associated with coach travel. In the UK alone, it’s estimated that 1.4million tonnes of CO2 is generated by diesel-fuelled coaches each year.

Coventry University’s Centre for Advanced Low Carbon Propulsion Systems (C-ALPS) is now set to play a key role in the programme and is currently investing £2m into developing a new hydrogen fuel cell development facility. As part of CoacHyfied, C-ALPS will develop an advanced thermal management system that will look to increase fuel efficiency in novel ways, including harnessing waste heat from hydrogen fuel cells to power air conditioning in coach cabins.

“We are delighted to be part of CoacHyfied and to be able to broaden the international knowledge of hydrogen propulsion,” said Dr Oliver Curnick, Associate Professor in Electrochemical Power Sources at C-ALPS.

“It is anticipated that the findings of the project will be of benefit to coach manufacturers as well as future transport operators, who will need to find innovative solutions to support clean mass transport in the future.”

The CoacHyfied programme will see the consortium developing and operating six fuel cell coaches at two regions in Latvia and France in two to three-year demo phases. While the OEM-strand will explore blank-page fuel cell solutions, the project's retrofit arm could help breathe new life into vehicles that currently rely almost exclusively on diesel.

“There are currently around 13,000 diesel-fuelled coaches operating in the UK, each generating as much as 1000g/km of carbon dioxide,” said Curnick.

“We will seek to address the widely-accepted gap in research activity into hydrogen-fuelled coaches both domestically and in Europe. There is also the additional aim of giving a second life to diesel vehicles that would otherwise have been scrapped in the move to zero emissions, by converting older coaches from diesel to hydrogen.”

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