H-scooters hit the road

Hydrogen-powered bikes and scooters are becoming viable on a commercial scale - with the first commercial models presented by fuel cell makers Valeswood at this week's Sustainabilitylive! eco-show.

“Fuel cells have been tested but their incorporation into consumer products has never been tried,” John Turner, managing director of Valeswood, told edie. While pilot projects abound, “it’s a different story when it comes to giving a three-year guarantee” on a fuel cell product.

By bringing the technology onto the consumer market Valeswood capitalise on the advantages of fuel cells, including zero emissions at point of use, low noise and an energy source that lasts much longer than a battery.

Incorporating a fuel cell into an electric bicycle that can also run on pedal-power, as Valeswood have done, gives the bike around four times the lasting power it has when using lithium batteries before it needs to re-fuel.

A Chinese-made electric bicycle will run for 15 miles powered by its own lithium battery, but when converted to work with a hydrogen fuel cell the running power shoots up to 60 miles. The resulting hydrogen eco-bike will set you back £599. A similarly powered scooter costs £6000, althought the prices should come down as production volumes increase.

“It’s a pretty limited market in the UK but scooters are the main form of transport in some parts of the world,” John Turner continued, pointing out the number of petrol-fuelled scooters sold just onto the Chinese market every day.

Valeswood, the fuel cell company behind the H-bike, uses alkaline fuel cells which have the advantages of low operational temperatures and pressures, as well as avoiding the need to use precious metals.

The energy used to produce the hydrogen itself is the only point where the green credentials of the technology show a potential weakness.

Most of the hydrogen fuel currently comes from the petrochemicals industry, although the company is looking into powering the hydrogen production process with renewables.

For more details on Valeswood, its technology and products see here.

Goska Romanowicz

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