First hydrogen powered ambulance prototype displayed at COP26

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Visitors to COP26, being held in Glasgow, are able to view the world’s first hydrogen fuelled ambulance, created by ULEMCo and its partners.

ULEMCo is a specialist in hydrogen commercial vehicle conversion, helping fleet and commercial vehicle owners to use zero emission hydrogen fuel to reduce transport related carbon emissions.

The prototype vehicle, which incorporates a hydrogen fuel cell in the powertrain, can be refuelled quickly and is capable of up to a 300-mile range.

The Zero Emission Rapid Response Operations ambulance, formally known as the ZERRO project, was originally started by Yorkshire Ambulance Service, where their range requirements require the flexibility that hydrogen can provide.

It is set to be trialled by the London Ambulance Service, where they will be able to access the public refuelling stations located 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 both urban and rural use.

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.

The vehicle, which can both recharge and refill, will be trialled in London after COP26 has concluded to test its operational flexibility and whether it is 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 a NHS spokesperson.

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.”