National Physical Laboratory

Hydrogen refuelling station opens

Hydrogen is set to become a crucial part of the UK's future energy mix as the government strives to create a low carbon economy and meet challenging climate change and air quality targets. The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is a key player in the development of measurement and testing solutions to support cost reduction and performance enhancement of these environmentally friendly technologies. The opening of the public hydrogen refuelling station marks the largest gathering of production fuel cell electric vehicles in the UK.

Hydrogen refuelling station at NPL, Teddington
Hydrogen refuelling station at NPL, Teddington

Fuel cells can be used to power cars, homes, businesses and portable devices such as mobile phones and laptops. A fuel cell is a device that converts the chemical energy stored in a fuel directly into electricity via an electrochemical reaction, which is around three times more efficient than simply burning the fuel. Even better, if hydrogen is used as the fuel, the only waste product is water, producing no carbon dioxide emissions or air pollution.

The hydrogen used in the station is generated via electrolysis on site using mains water and electricity and then dispensed to vehicles from large storage tanks. The electrolyser is capable of generating enough hydrogen to refuel 16 cars each day and refuelling takes only a few minutes. The refuelling station is open around the clock to members of the public who own or lease a fuel cell powered vehicle.

In addition to hosting the refuelling station, for ITM Power, NPL is supporting the development of a hydrogen economy through its cutting-edge research on fuel cells, electrolysers and hydrogen purity. A novel reference electrode invented by NPL is helping electrolyser manufacturers such as ITM Power to identify more durable and cost-effective water splitting catalysts. NPL's hydrogen purity laboratory is supporting the rollout of hydrogen vehicles by providing quality assurance to refuelling stations such as the one at NPL.

The newly-opened public hydrogen refuelling station at NPL will serve drivers of fuel cell powered vehicles such as the Toyota Mirai and the Hyundai ix35. The station is just one of several being installed in the London area as part of the HyFIVE project, a European Union-funded initiative designed to kick-start electrification of vehicular transport. In the long term, it is planned to use excess renewable energy to generate the hydrogen fuel, which will lead to a 100% carbon neutral form of transport.

Coverage on this research appeared in:

Find out more about the hydrogen refuelling station at NPL

Find out more about Hydrogen Purity Analysis at NPL

Find out more about the Centre for Carbon Measurement at NPL

For further details, please contact Dr Gareth Hinds

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Last Updated: 26 Apr 2017
Created: 10 May 2016

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