UK’s first supermarket hydrogen fuel pump now open

The UK’s first supermarket hydrogen refuelling pump has opened at a Sainsbury’s in the north of London.

Up until now, hydrogen refuelling points in the UK have generally tended to be localised mainly at commercial depots, industrial estates and at Heathrow Airport.

However, Sainsbury’s says that it has opened the new pump in order to better serve taxis, delivery vans and certain consumer cars in the London area which are powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Refuelling takes just three minutes

Operated by gas and chemical supplier Air Products, the new pump delivers hydrogen at high pressures, meaning that filling a vehicle up with hydrogen fuel takes just three minutes.

The move by the supermarket chain represents a vital milestone in increasing the viability of hydrogen-powered cars, hopefully creating the beginning of a workable network of hydrogen pumps.

Hydrogen-powered vehicles have long been lauded as the possible future of motoring, as they offer the advantages of both conventionally-fuelled cars and all-electric vehicles.

Each hydrogen car is powered solely by hydrogen gas, which is converted by the car’s fuel cells into electric energy to power the car, with water being the only emissions released at the end.

Unlike battery-powered electric vehicles, cars powered by hydrogen don’t need to be recharged and the battery won’t go dead either; a fuel cell vehicle can keep running so long as it’s refuelled with hydrogen.

Already popular in certain parts of the United States, vehicles fuelled by hydrogen are still in their infancy in the UK, though some manufacturers already offer hydrogen-powered consumer cars.

In particular, Hyundai released a hydrogen-powered version of the ix35 compact SUV late last year, with the first deliveries of the ix35 Fuel Cell model expected this year.

Able to manage up to 350 miles on a single tank of hydrogen before refuelling, Hyundai ensured that the ix35 Fuel Cell offers a similar driving experience “as an ix35 driven by an internal combustion engine”.

£11 million investment into hydrogen network

In October last year, the government announced an £11 million investment into the construction of a hydrogen fuel network throughout the country, with 15 stations to be built by the end of this year.

As well as the plans for the new refuelling network, other efforts to decarbonise British roads include a radical £400 million plan to escalate the usage of all-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said: “By 2040 all new cars and vans will be ultra-low emission vehicles and this could be delivered by a variety of technologies, including plug-in hybrids, pure EVs and hydrogen.

“We want to ensure that support is there for all of these vehicles and that the UK continues to lead the pack in providing the right infrastructure to drive the switch to electric.”