Reducing carbon emissions is a difficult business, particularly in the courier industry where driving long distances on the roads is a given. Several new solutions are being tried and tested, but hydrogen is one of the most recent alternatives to be put forward. Could this be the answer to reducing fossil fuel consumption? |
The Future of Fuel
As yet, there are no vehicles powered solely by this chemical element that are commercially available, but manufacturers are looking towards producing them in the near future. At the moment, hybrids are being used, which combine compressed hydrogen with either petrol or diesel to power the automobile.
How does it Work?
To power a vehicle using hydrogen, it must either be burnt in an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) or used through a Fuel Cell. Currently, for Internal Combustion Engine Diesel hybrids (known as ICED’s), the compressed hydrogen is stored in tanks and then used in combination with diesel or petrol. There is a small number of these ‘green’ vans which are available at present, but many more are still in production as manufacturers work towards reducing emissions by 70%.
For Fuel Cell Vehicles, (FCVs) the hydrogen fuel is used to generate electricity which powers the automobile. For this option, car and bus models are available, but unfortunately no van models have been manufactured, so this is not yet a viable option for a courier driver.
• If the hydrogen in a hybrid runs out, the automobile will simply operate on the diesel as a conventional van would. • Having a green vehicle could help you avoid taxes and fines, particularly since the government are becoming increasingly concerned with pollution. Regulations are likely to become stricter in the future, so a hybrid will probably be an excellent investment in the long run. • Hybrids are extremely similar to standard diesel vans in terms of how they are to drive, so if you are a courier driver, they will feel similar to operate. • The load space is not affected by the added storage tanks. • Tailpipe emissions are lower than diesel automobiles.
• ICED’s still produce harmful emissions such as carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons, so are not completely eco-friendly. • There are currently just 13 refuelling stations in the UK for hybrid cars. This limits operation ranges since a courier driver would have to stay within a relatively close range to these stations. • Payload would be slightly reduced due to the storage tanks.
If you are a courier driver and keen to move forward to a hybrid van, it may be a few more years before it would be an effective choice for your business. Being limited by the proximity of the refuelling stations is certainly not ideal, but the possibility of having an eco-friendly fleet is something you can definitely look forward to.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier drivers in the express freight exchange industry. Over 5,400 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.
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