The ONE North East funded ECO2Trans project was conceived to assist regional companies to learn about ultra low carbon vehicles powered by Fuel Cells and to understand what role they might have in this emerging industrial sector. To achieve this two second hand battery electric buses were purchased with the intention of converting them to run using hydrogen Fuel Cells. Such conversions had been done before in other countries but it was felt that it was important that the North East should both demonstrate its own capability and raise awareness within the regions industrial sector of the potential opportunities created by this fast developing sector of the automotive industry.
As a result, in addition to the purchase and conversion of two buses, a small battery electric run about was donated along with two IRD fuel cell stacks. The team used this vehicle and the stack to create a working fuel cell system that powers the vehicle. This time, rather than hide the components of the full system away, they have been laid out so that the workings of a typical system may be understood and, with our permission modified in order to test various theories and perhaps new components.
The work was carried out with the assistance of the project¿s industrial partners: AVID Vehicles, Comesys Europe Ltd. and HILTech Developments Ltd. In addition the project was fortunate to select as Fuel Cell supplier Shanghai Shen Li High Technologies from China. This company, with whom the project team already had a good working relationship, sent a team of seven engineers to the UK to assist with the installation and commissioning of the systems in both buses. This work was carried out over ten long days and required significant modifications to both the Fuel Cells and the buses. However, the finished result was well worth it as both buses have the power package installed within the existing battery compartment envelope. The lessons learn by the project team will prove invaluable.
The work done by the team and the industrial partners forms part of an overall regional strategy for Ultra Low Carbon Vehicles that includes the announcement of the National Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Development Centre and the National Ultra Low Carbon Economic Area. It is anticipated that the project team will continue their work to educate and assist companies to join the Low Carbon revolution.