The Isle of Man has played host to some low emission tests this week as two Ford Transit vans that have been converted to run on hydrogen gas have been putting in the miles on behalf of the Department of Infrastructure in order to investigate greener fuel technology.
The tests are also acting as a way to bolster the alternative fuels sector on the Isle of Man. Ken Milne, Senior Manager for energy policy at the Department of Economic Development, has been explaining: “It’s a trial run by the Department of Infrastructure but we are interested too because we are keen to grow the clean tech (low carbon emission) sector in the island.”
The vans, complete with van insurance quotes, were brought from ITM Power, which is based in Sheffield, with a transportable hydrogen production plant. The plant uses a mains water supply which passes over a specially produced membrane which is electrified. This then splits the water into its constituents of hydrogen and oxygen. The two gases are then collected. The hydrogen can be pressurised up to 350 bar in special tanks that are fixed underneath the vans. Mileage to the gallon is the equivalent of about 20mpg with the range, before needing to refill, being up to 100 miles. This, naturally, will depend on the terrain and conditions.
Despite a seemingly low mpg and range, the enormous benefit comes from the fact that hydrogen fuel will cost substantially less due to the only overhead being the electricity used whilst the vehicle will also be much cleaner than any other form of fuel. If hydrogen fuel was to be commercialised and used throughout the van industry in all new vehicles then, with a growing number of vans taking to our roads, the amount of pollution caused could potentially reduce by a dramatic amount. This will undoubtedly be very beneficial!
According to ITM’s marketing officer, Charles Purkess, the pollutants produced are very small whilst carbon emissions are zero.