Zero-emission battery electric fire tenders, when combined with hydrogen fuel cells and a minimum of 8 kg of onboard hydrogen fuel storage, will match today’s demands for flexibility, emergency response, and water pumping.
That is the finding of a study conducted by ULEMCo in collaboration with Oxfordshire County Council and the Oxfordshire Fire Service. The findings are relevant not only for the deployment of fully operational fire engines throughout the United Kingdom, but also for other specialised vehicles that require significant power take-off in their activities.
The real-world energy requirements of fire appliances, including the EN1486 requirement for four hours of water pumping energy, revealed that 8kg of hydrogen combined with a Toyota Gen2 fuel cell range extender would be enough to increase the range of a 220kW battery-powered base vehicle. The operation’s “always ready” and rapid reaction needs require a combination of stored energy in the batteries and hydrogen fuel that can be refuelled quickly.
A second finding of the study is that this onboard energy method containing hydrogen fuel could be implemented within existing vehicle designs without compromising equipment installation, thereby speeding up the deployment of zero-emission vehicles in various applications.
The existing fire station locations in Oxfordshire were reviewed as part of the project, and possibilities for hydrogen refuelling locations were proposed that would not only allow the engines to refuel cost efficiently, but also provide space for the remainder of the Oxfordshire public sector fleet. The key was identifying areas where consolidated demand would exceed 200 kilogrammes per day, allowing hydrogen infrastructure investors to offer hydrogen at a price per kilogramme comparable to existing fuels and ownership cost models.
“The next steps with the project are to secure funding to build a prototype fire tender”, said Amanda Lyne, Managing Director of ULEMCo. “We shall demonstrate the flexibility and technical capability of the hydrogen fuel cell range extension approach.”
Councillor Pete Sudbury, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment said, “This clever combination of battery power with hydrogen fuel cell range extender is excellent news for those of us who are optimistic that hydrogen could play an important role in the decarbonisation process. Moving heavy duty vehicles like fire engines away from fossil fuels is a difficult challenge, so this is an important step in exploring and advancing zero carbon solutions.”
Following the study, Oxfordshire Council is assessing the logistics of building a hydrogen refuelling infrastructure with the Oxfordshire Fire Service, which oversees a county-wide service that includes both the City and the larger urban, semi-urban, and rural parts of Oxfordshire.