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‘Green’ London black cab prototype unveiled

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June 9, 2010

Intelligent Energy CEO, Dr. Henri Winand with London Deputy Mayor, Kit Malthouse, at unvei...

Intelligent Energy CEO, Dr. Henri Winand with London Deputy Mayor, Kit Malthouse, at unveiling of Fuel Cell Black Cab at City Hall (Image: Business Wire)

Two years ago we reported that London’s iconic black cabs would be getting a green makeover with a fleet to be fitted out with zero local emissions hydrogen fuel cell power systems in time for the Olympics in 2012. Now the first prototype fuel cell black cab has been unveiled. It is powered by hydrogen fuel system hybridized with lithium polymer batteries that allow the vehicle to operate for a full day without the need for refueling.

The prototype cab is capable of a top speed of over 80 mph (129 km/h), has a range of more than 250 miles (402 km), refuels in about five minutes and produces no emissions other than water vapor.

The first cab off the rank was unveiled at London’s City Hall by London’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Chair of the London Hydrogen Partnership, Kit Malthouse.

“The black cab is a much loved London icon, but it is also a significant source of pollution especially in the center of the city," said Malthouse. "This prototype Fuel Cell Black Cab, which emits only water from its tailpipe, is an exciting glimpse of how hydrogen technology could soon play a vital role in cleaning up air quality for urban dwellers.”

The prototype black cab was a team effort, with Lotus Engineering packaging the full propulsion system including the fuel cell engine from Intelligent Energy and designing control systems to optimize performance of both the fuel cells and electric drive systems. TRW Conekt led the safety analysis program, including braking and steering systems, and London Taxis International Limited (LTI) provided donor vehicles to assist with the structural modifications to the chassis of the taxis.

The Intelligent Energy fuel cell system has been integrated into the most recent LTI TX4 model taxi, and fits into the vehicle without intrusion into its internal or luggage space.

The first fleet of fuel cell black cabs is due to be introduced in time for the London Olympics in 2012. Later this year, Transport for London will start operating five hydrogen-fuel cell buses, and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has committed to working with manufacturers to make all taxis operating in London zero tail-pipe emissions by 2020.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
5 Comments

Presumably, the only input required is compressed H2, which must be fairly cheap. The performance figures are amazing. I guess the only problem will be the cost of the vehicle. Ordinary diesel taxis cost a lot of money, so will these new ones be affordable? Maybe drivers will have to lease them. Will fares go down because they are cheaper to run? lol

windykites1
9th June, 2010 @ 08:17 am PDT

The first of any type of production run is always going to cost more. But, with so many different OEMs venturing into the fuel cell field the price per KWh has been dropping rapidly. Most of the OEMs are looking at producing commercially priced fuel cell vehicles by 2015. We should do everything that we can to encourage these positive developments.

Lawrence Weisdorn
9th June, 2010 @ 08:53 am PDT

I like the 'Green' in the title. Since it's Hydrogen, that make the vehicle 'Green' only at the tailpipe. Because bulk Hydrogen is generated by steam reform cracking of natural gas, it still is essentially a fossil fuel.

And don't give me that crap about Hydrogen can be generated from solar. Yes it can, but the fact is that it isn't. If you go and buy Hydrogen for your fuel cell car, it comes from natural gas.

Also when you add the energy cost to get the Hydrogen to the vehicle, which includes the steam reforming, the compression, the transportation, the storage, Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are less 'Green' than a Toyota Prius. The problem is they only measure the emissions at the tailpipe. And how they get away with Hydrogen Fuel cells being Zero Emissions, but BEV are not is beyond me. Well, actually it's not, it's typical FUD promulgated by the Auto and Gas industry.

Eletruk
9th June, 2010 @ 09:54 am PDT

I'll agree with Elektruk. I don't see any other reason for developing hydrogen, than oil companies interests. Turning hydrogen into cars tank currently takes too many steps and is mostly not so sustainable. Hydrogen can't compete in any manner with electric cars and there is no infra ready for it either. If we compare total final efficiencies hydro isn't much of a improvement from gas combusted cars and fall way behind electric cars.

Other thing that isn't mentioned on article, is the life of this hydrogen engine, have developed any further from the poor living age they used to have? Before we can easily and sustainably turn water into hydro, i don't see any future for it.

How do these sentences on article go together:

"allow the vehicle to operate for a full day without the need for refueling"

"The prototype cab ... has a range of more than 250 miles (402 km)"

Does it mean on average taxis in London drive less than 400km a day?

eppan
11th June, 2010 @ 02:34 am PDT

The BBC, CNN, internet media and many other agencies have recently reported that Intelligent Energy and Lotus are developing "the first hydrogen-powered London cab" for the 2012 Olympic Games.

This is incorrect, as there were three (3) fuel cell powered London taxis prior to the Lotus-Intelligent Energy prototype.

First London fuel cell taxi developed in 1998.

Second in 1999.

Third in 2000.

Fourth in 2010.

The first London taxi to be powered by fuel cells was the ZeTek (ZevCo) Carbodies taxi, exhibited at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1998.

This vehicle was named the "Millennium Taxi" and inaugurated by Mrs. Barbara Bacon, the wife of the late Francis T. Bacon, the English engineer and inventor of the fuel cell used on the Apollo missions.

A second taxi was built in 1999 and featured on CNN, BBC and the seven principle US news networks. It toured Europe and the US, where amongst its other engagements, it was driven in the New York Sheraton Hotel Ballroom by London's Taxi Driver of the Year and Judd Hirsch, star of the US television show "Taxi".

Once back in the UK this vehicle was stolen, the theft reported to the authorities, a record made and an investigation undertaken. However, much to everyone's surprise, it was revealed that Camden Borough Council had removed the Taxi from a private car park, towed it away and crushed it, without any notification, justification or apology.

A third fuel cell taxi was built in 2000 using a Metrocab body and was featured at Hannover Messe, the European Fuel Cell Forum and the Seventh Grove Fuel Cell Symposium in the UK. This vehicle is currently being refurbished.

Unfortunately, ZeTek Power Plc, the company who developed these vehicles (and other fuel cell applications), collapsed as a result of the market fallout after the September 11th, 2001 WTC tragedy.

greenparadigm
6th August, 2010 @ 05:27 am PDT
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