ULEMCo to develop hydrogen-fueled fire engines

ULEMCo (Ultra Low Emissions Mileage Co), a UK-based developer of hydrogen fuel systems, has been awarded government funding along with its partners to produce an optimized design for specialized hydrogen-fueled vehicles. Working with Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) and its Fire and Rescue Service, ULEMCo will design a fuel cell electric powertrain configuration for zero-emission fire appliances.

Named HySPERT (HYdrogen Special Purpose Electric vehicle platform for Refuse collection and fire Trucks) the work is planned to take eight months. The funding was secured from Innovate UK under the Transition to Zero Emission program.

In the first stage of the project, the partners will work to develop a deep understanding of the specific duty cycles for emergency service vehicles that need 24/7 readiness, and enough energy on board for 4-40 hours continuous running – a vital element given fire services use this type of vehicle in a variety of use scenarios, both urban and rural.

The work will involve creating a thorough understanding and a detailed model of the current energy requirement. This will include the energy needed to pump water for a minimum of four hours, as well as the optimal range requirement. The test process will gather real-world data based on the performance of an OEM-manufactured fuel cell over the course of the project.

ULEMCo says it will design the optimized fuel cell electric powertrain, culminating in a full specification and detailed engineered design for a prototype vehicle. This will be a precursor to the next stage of development, the physical building of the prototype.

The project comes as Oxfordshire County Council unveiled its goal to become a net zero carbon local authority by 2030 for its own operational emissions. “We are excited to be working on this important initiative to plan the future of specialized utility vehicles such as fire tenders,” said Amanda Lyne, MD of ULEMCo. “Hydrogen has tremendous potential for enabling zero-emission vehicles in the short term.”

Alongside the study, the county council will develop a plan for the hydrogen refueling requirements across Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, and how these fit with the wider plans to develop a hydrogen infrastructure across the county.

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