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Filling up your hydrogen-fuel-cell car in the not too distant future

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By Brendan Norman, Riversimple

One of the questions that is coming up around the introduction of Hydrogen powered cars such as Riversimple’s Rasa, unsurprisingly perhaps, is how and where to fill it.  The second question is probably better answered by the time-line of the introduction of the cars.

How
The means of filling a car with hydrogen is not that dissimilar to filling a LPG car.  The gun from the tank is attached to the tank opening in the same way, being fixed with a locking mechanism and then pressures are equalised to transfer hydrogen into the cars tank.  Then under 3 minutes later the tank is full and you’re ready to leave.  Much like the time taken to fill a petrol car, but a little more carefully to ensure the tank captures all the gas inside and it’s not floating off into the atmosphere.

With the Rasa that will then get you 300 miles or so, which is great!  But you will want to be going no further than 150 miles from the nearest tank, for now.

Where
Right now, according to the wonderful website below, there are about 12 filling stations in the UK, and five under development.  Which doesn’t today lend itself to going right across the UK yet:

http://www.netinform.net/h2/H2Stations/Default.aspx

But as with anything there needs to be a proliferation of cars available for there to be a reason to put in the stations.  Toyota now has the Mirai on the market – it’s a different approach to Riversimple but once again Toyota is bravely putting technology to the road to give it a chance.  Hyundai is also joining with Honda, BMW and many others about to follow suit.  So it is only a matter of time before we see the pattern of filling stations start to evolve across UK and Europe.

 

Riversimple

The Riversimple approach is to match this.  The first batch of 20 cars is coming within the next months and will be used within an area of the UK which is serviced for Hydrogen.  The purpose of the Rasa is a Local car: this car demonstrates efficiency at it’s best as a vehicle which can get occupants from town to town in a local area.

From there comes the development of the Delivery van, which again can exist around local activities but as we head into 2018-2019 there will be more towns and cities with Filling Stations offering Hydrogen.  Nice thing is as those cities develop these stations we expect to see a decent population of Hydrogen powered cars starting to appear – meaning in those cities the start of a decent reduction in emissions from cars – with only water coming out.  This is the important thing – we will expect towns to start to see the difference as this staged proliferation starts to kick in.  Be it Riversimple or the other manufacturers – it has to be good!

Then within the next 4-5 years we would expect to see this catch on and by then the Saloon cars and all sorts of other applications with a longer range should be able to be driven all over the UK, and most probably the EU, without having to worry too much about not being able to find a filling station – within reason.

It’s a matter of time but it does appear that it is now starting to become very much a reality and we’re now in a position where we are not that far off being able to join in.

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