By on February 23, 2010

The London 2012 Olympics promise to be a “low Carbon” affair. The London games will have everything from a low carbon Olympic flame to official energy provider EDF providing 24MW of energy from renewable resources. Even the official Olympic fleet is getting in on the “low carbon” act. What else is there to do? Right: The humble British Black Cab is getting the “low carbon” treatment. It’s coming from a source that had already been written off: Hydrogen.

The Guardian reports that a new Black Taxi Cab is being developed with the hope of being ready for road trials by 2012. The Black Cab will look exactly the same as the normal diesel cabs, but underneath hides a hydrogen power train developed by Lotus.

A drag racer it will be not: The fuel cell taxi can go to a top speed of 81mph, go from 0-60mph in 14 seconds and get about 250 miles on a full tank of hydrogen. “The intent is to take the taxis and retrofit a powertrain that has zero tailpipe emissions,” said Henri Winand of Intelligent Energy, the company making the fuel cells for these taxis. “But also it has to deliver some very important things: a reasonable range, very quick refueling time and no modifying the passenger or driver space.”

London’s deputy mayor, Kit Malthouse aims to have 6 hydrogen filling stations in London by 2012 to help the deployment of these taxis. He wants 20-50 fuel cell taxis in operation as well as 150 hydrogen powered buses. Lotus is very proud of this project. “There is a global drive to reduce CO2 emission levels and this is something we are dedicated to, for both Lotus cars and our engineering clients,” said Simon Wood of Lotus Engineering. “The fuel cell hybrid taxi is a fantastic achievement for all the companies involved. The level of quality and professionalism that has been demonstrated is extremely high and the taxi is already running through a series of tests.” Looks like the air quality of London, by 2012 will be high. Just like the budget of the Olympics.

The taxis seem to be a low carbon-copy of a previous  Olympic exercise: Beijing had 20 hydrogen-powered cars on its roads in 2008. After the games were over, nothing was ever heard or seen of them.  Also, apart from the often cited logistic challenges of a hydrogen infrastructure, the gas has a dirty little secret: Currently,  it is most frequently made from methane or other fossil fuels.

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10 Comments on “London Olympics High On Hydrogen...”

  • avatar

    I consider myself to be reasonably conscious of environmental impact, but when we can’t spare a little carbon for the Olympic flame…well, that’s going a bit far.

    This reminds me of a loveable, but somewhat odd, aunt who was married to my Dad’s brother. During the 1973 energy crisis she wrote a letter to President Nixon, suggesting that the nation save energy by extinguishing the eternal flame on JFK’s grave.

  • avatar

    so, since hydrogen cars overall use 4-5 times the energy than battery cars, how is that good for the environment? Producing, compressing and re-converting hydrogen is about the least efficient combination of 3 inefficient processes. they say 250 miles range, probably 150 miles in real driving and passengers on board. I’m sure b then we can have suitable battery cars considering a hydrogen cars costs a million bucks a piece, even a Tesla seems to be affordable.

  • avatar

    All politics and peacocking, nothing more.

  • avatar

    Somebody has to say it: OH THE HUMANITY!!!

    Grouse all you want about whether these vehicles are truly green in and of themselves, but initiatives like this help to give momentum to alternative energy projects. Why invest in hydrogen production R&D or in hydrogen delivery infrastructure without evidence that the vehicles powered by hydrogen are viable?

  • avatar

    CO2: It’s got what plants crave!

  • avatar

    The Brits better check witht he Canucks before they go too green. Green tech gace the Canadians fit in Vancouver. Not the least of which was a rainbow-powered ice conditioning machine that broke almost immediately.

    They had to urgently truck a proper propane-powered Zamboni up form Calgary.

    “Oh the humaity” indeed. What was the carbon footprint of that screwup?

  • avatar

    Those performance figures are probably no slower than a diesel black cab is anyway. Having actually been in one of those things on a motorway, it was pretty much flatout at 70mph. And irrelevant, as traffic conditions in London are at about walking pace normally, never mind when the Olympics is in town.

    And having spent a fair amount of time in London, it will take an eternity to go the full 250 mile range.

    Big city cabs do seem like a great application for electric cars, as they don’t go far or fast. But it would have to be done with swappable batteries as most of them are on the road nearly 24×7.

  • avatar

    Beyond the whole silliness of obtaining massive amounts of hydrogen from natural gas, the real problem isn’t the infrastructure, it’s the environmental impact of hydrogen.

    The tiny leakage of refueling millions of hydrogen vehicles everyday is not the best idea – hydrogen is an indirect greenhouse gas.

    So, we would lose some tailpipe emissions, use a bunch of natural gas, and best of all, not have any positive effect on greenhouse gas levels.


  • avatar

    All gasses in the atmosphere absorb and retain energy, some more than others, nuff said.

    Burning hydrogen in itself has no carbon footprint….no carbon (2H2 + O2 = 2H2O)

    Maybe we can ask the athletes to reduce their level of performance so that they do not exhale as much CO2…..lunacy

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