Composites specialist Permali has won UK Government funding to develop a lightweight composite solution that will allow existing diesel-powered buses to be retrofitted with zero-emission hydrogen powertrains. Based in Gloucester, the company’s R & D team aims to rapidly develop an affordable green technology alternative that can accelerate the ability for the UK to meet its net zero emissions target.
To that end, the team will collaborate with leading hydrogen and fuel cell specialist company Arcola Energy and the UK National Composites Centre (NCC) to design and manufacture the proof of concept system. The partnership project is initially aimed at buses, but the new technology concept should be transferable to a wider range of vehicles, such as heavy-duty goods vehicles, trains and even aircraft.
The project focus for Permali will be on the development and production of a low-cost, lightweight composite system which will structurally support the hydrogen fuel cylinders. The target for the Permali development team is to halve the weight of the current metallic hydrogen fuel tank structure and to increase energy storage by 25%, while still providing the required structural performance to meet the vehicle road safety standards.
Hydrogen fuel provides a highly efficient zero-emission alternative to diesel. It is especially suited for buses which operate on long-distance, high-capacity routes. By retrofitting existing diesel engine buses with hydrogen powertrains, bus operators will be able to cost effectively run zero emission fleets, with a combination of retrofitted hydrogen powered buses for longer routes alongside electric battery powered buses for shorter routes.