Return-to-base operations targeted by Revolve’s hydrogen vans11 February 2010

Revolve Technologies is talking to a number of large operators about deploying its hydrogen bi-fuel converted Ford Transits into their fleets.

After the company secured a deal for two of its vans to be run by the Post Office in Stornaway, Scotland, Paul Turner, technical director, reveals that Revolve has the capacity to convert and supply up to 20 vehicles a month.

"We are working with fleet operators, and also in discussions with local authorities regarding lease schemes for the vehicles," says Turner. "The biggest stumbling block at the moment is the refuelling infrastructure."

To get over this hurdle, Turner says that the company is working with BOC and Sheffield's ITM Power, which both provide mobile refuelling options for the return-to-base market.

The vans are powered by a 2.3-litre petrol engine, and three underfloor-mounted tanks, filled with compressed hydrogen gas, pressurized to 350bar. A converted Transit will offer a range of up to 190km and Turner has calculated that in urban use, the vehicle will consume hydrogen at a rate of around 31g/km.

Turner says operators will be required to carry out spark plug changes on the vehicles every 5,000 miles, but that cheaper items are used in the vehicle as the platinum-tipped items can act as a catalyst for the hydrogen.

"There is a full diagnostics kit onboard, which alerts the driver to any leaks, and any other maintenance is able to be carried out by any garage technician," he says.

Turner admits that the vans represent a green solution, rather than a cost-saving measure. The company is quoting rough conversion figures of £45,000 for each van, although an order of "five or six" would see that amount drop to around £35,000.

"While there is a relatively high initial capital outlay, the price is still cheaper than electric vehicles," he reasons. He also reveals that conversion of smaller vehicles, (Ford Connect and equivalent), are being investigated, using up to five smaller, cylindrical tanks to achieve the same volume.

Joihn Challen

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