Feeds

Mayor Ken buys hydrogen buses for London

Possible break with Chavez?

Top three mobile application threats

London Mayor Ken Livingstone has placed a £10m order for 10 hydrogen-fuelled red buses to run on the capital's streets.

The buses will use the hydrogen to generate electricity, and storage batteries and electric motors will replace a mechanical transmission to achieve maximum fuel efficiency. Five of the vehicles will burn hydrogen in ordinary Ford combustion engines which will power electric generators; the other five will use fuel cells to produce electricity directly.

The buses will be manufactured by US company ISE Corp, which offers a wide range of hybrid and hydrogen-fuelled heavy vehicles. According to the company spec sheets for its Hydrogen Hybrid Internal Combustion Engine and Fuel Cell Bus technologies, the two approaches are broadly comparable in performance.

The fuel cell buses use their hydrogen more efficiently, achieving more range for less gas - on the other hand the combustion-engine ones deliver higher peak power for less weight and are apparently a good bit cheaper. Neither of the ISE designs uses cryogenic liquid hydrogen, instead storing the explosive gas in high-pressure roof tanks.

The London buses will cost an average of £1m each, nearly eight times the cost of a normal diesel bus, but London transport bosses reckon it's a sensible investment. They say the public sector needs to drive cleaner transport technology forward.

"London is now the first city in Europe to commit to a hydrogen bus fleet of this size, which will match traditional diesel buses in terms of performance," Mayor Ken Livingstone told Reuters.

"This represents a huge step forward from the previous hydrogen trials in the capital and is an important step towards my target of having five per cent of all public sector fleet vehicles powered by hydrogen by 2015," he added.

Hydrogen vehicles have almost zero emissions compared to ordinary diesel jobs, though the combustion ones do give off small amounts of nitrous oxide. However, at present commercial hydrogen is made by steam reforming of natural gas, a process which involves heavy atmospheric carbon emissions.

In future, hydrogen could be made using electricity to split water, a process which would be as clean as a whistle. This would be expensive at current electricity prices, however, and of course the generation of electricity today typically involves pollution and carbon emissions.

For a truly carbon-free future, one would need an all-hydrogen or electric transport fleet, which would involve a seriously increased demand for electricity. That much larger amount of electricity would have to be generated affordably and cleanly, too, which would probably involve some difficult decisions.

For now, Mayor Ken only wants five per cent hydrogen power. He is also well known for his cheap-oil deal with increasingly-totalitarian Venezuelan strongman socialist Hugo Chavez, under which the other 95 per cent of the London bus fleet gets cheap fuel. Is Red Ken starting to turn into Green Ken? ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.