Hydrogen-powered taxis gear up for London Olympics

22 Feb 2010

The traditional London black cab may look the same by the time the 2012 Olympics come around, but under the bonnet many of these tourist-pleasing vehicles aim to have high-tech hydrogen fuel cells that can travel for 250 miles at up to 81mph.

Developed by Lotus and Intelligent Energy, this fleet of zero-emission cabs is part of a UK Government drive towards the commercialisation of hydrogen and fuel-cell technologies in the next few years.

The key difference between these cabs and the electric car is that although they produce no carbon emissions they do not take hours to refuel. In fact, they can be refuelled in minutes.

Alongside these new cabs, London’s Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse said the aim was to have in place six hydrogen filling stations while getting the number of hydrogen-fuelled cabs up to between 20 and 50 by the 2012 Olympics.

At the time the venture with Lotus and Intelligent Energy was announced, the UK energy minister said: “It’s essential that we bring forward these innovative low-carbon technologies to tackle the challenge of climate change.

“DECC’s (Department of Energy and Climate Change) new competition launched in September for up to £7.2 million of funding for hydrogen and fuel-cell technology demonstration will fill a current gap in the innovation chain relating to scale-up and deployment of this low-carbon technology. The competition is a clear measure of Government support for this innovation.”

By Marie Boran

Photo: ‘London Trip – Fast Cabs’ courtesy of Ricardo Liberato via Flickr under the Creative Commons license (some rights reserved)

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years