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Hydrogen-Fueled Olympics Taxis Sent 130 Miles To Refuel--On Diesel Trucks

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London Taxi

London Taxi

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The London Olympics now underway are a showcase for green cars.

Automotive sponsor BMW is getting massive exposure for 4,000 of its greenest vehicles, including lower-emission ActiveHybrid models, fuel-efficient diesels, and much-anticipated i3 all-electric city car and i8 plug-in hybrid sports coupe.

Londoners, Olympics visitors, and the global TV audience see glimpses of these vehicles whizzing along the special "Olympics lanes" that have been set aside on London's congested streets and highways to whisk athletes and dignitaries from place to place.

But one non-BMW initiative--a handful of London taxi cabs fueled on hydrogen--is turning out to be not quite as green as planned.

Due to the shutdown of a central hydrogen fueling station near the Olympic Arena east of central London, the hydrogen taxis have to be taken on a 130-mile round trip to a hydrogen fueling station operated by Honda in Swindon to be refueled.

And they make that trip on the back of flatbed diesel trucks.

Which likely negates any net carbon reduction benefits from their zero-emission operation.

Mazda Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid

Mazda Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid

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HyTEC, which operates the five hydrogen taxis, hopes that a second, more central hydrogen fueling station will open at London's Heathrow Airport, west of central London, before the end of the Games.

Meanwhile, a fleet of buses also fueled by hydrogen has been affected by the closure as well.

To keep this all in perspective, the overall reduction in emissions from the various green Olympics vehicles is likely far less than that the reduction from Londoners simply staying out of their cars and reducing their vehicle travel in light of dire predictions of massive chaos, gridlock, traffic paralysis, and so forth.

But it does point out the importance of hydrogen fueling infrastructure, one of a number of challenges to widespread rollout of hydrogen as a vehicle fuel.

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Comments (10)
  1. They should have gone electric and had level 3 charging available in time for the games.
     
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  2. Here is an article that may explain why hydrogen power is having so much trouble during the Olympics.
    http://green.autoblog.com/2012/07/25/londons-hydrogen-buses-grounded-during-olympics-due-to-security/
     
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  3. And hydrogen proponents keep telling us how safe it is. Not safe enough for the Olympics however.
     
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  4. I read recently that the San Francisco airport halted the installation of a hydrogen station over concerns of what may happen if there was an explosion that close to an active runway system. Sure they tell you it's safe, but they've never seen a ten plus year old hydrogen station that's been poorly maintained and has become a hazard just due to wear.
     
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  5. Is there any “ten plus year old hydrogen station”, hazardous or not?
     
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  6. Just to be clear. The i3 and i8 are not being driven around, they are in a showroom as prototypes.
     
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  7. Just had to rain on my parade, didn't you John...? Dying to see them in the real world...
     
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  8. It frustrates me to see that despite the obvious flaws and lacking in hydrogen powered vehicles & infrastructure, some groups are still touting them as a practical transport solution for the masses.
    Thankfully, what goes on in "Promotionland", and what goes on in reality are two different things.
     
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  9. Hydrogen is just way too explosive. 20% to 80% concentration will set it off... One of the widest range of ignition if NOT the widest range.
     
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  10. If H2 is really a more hazardous fuel than highly explosive gasoline or pressurized “natural” (fossil) gas, keep in mind that any fire burning any leaking hydrogen only goes straight upward.

    Why not design hydrogen-powered cars w/ their fuel tanks in the roof, so that passengers or cargo are spared most of the fire’s heat? Once a roof-mounted tank is fueled, it lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity, since the fuel is lighter than air! The car will corner flatter fueled than when empty.
     
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