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About hydrogen power

About hydrogen power

The future may depend on continuing innovation but the fuel cell itself is not new. It was developed in 1842 by Welsh judge and scientist Sir William Grove.

 

Recognised as the Grove Voltaic cell, it produced power by continuously passing hydrogen gas across an oxidising agent, thus producing an electrical charge as it recombined with oxygen to form H2O.

 

The same principals are used today. The produced electricity is then used to power what is essentially an electric vehicle with a continuously charging ‘battery’.

 

Renewable

 

Hydrogen gas can be manufactured in a number of ways, but using renewable energy to power the process of separating water into its hydrogen and oxygen components is a particularly neat way of providing green power, says Mr Bamford.

 

“The beauty of hydrogen in an agricultural situation is that it closely replicates what you do already in terms of quick and not too frequent refuelling.

 

“There was actually a prototype tractor with a fuel cell built in the 1950s, but it could not carry enough gas to give it a useful range. Tanks are far better now. Using carbon fibre technology, the gas can be safely compressed to 250 bar.”

 

Technology

 

The same rules of scale apply to vehicles, with a hydrogen-fuelled bus currently costing about twice as much as a conventional diesel-powered version.

 

“Scottish Government and Aberdeen City Council have been very forward looking in investing in green technology. In my view, if we were to receive government-backed orders for 4,000 buses across the UK the price would become competitive.

 

“Everything is going to have to become greener, so we want to be on the front foot as soon as and as much as we can,” says Mr Bamford.

 

“Agricultural kit is quite complicated but theoretically it is possible that we will see hydrogen powered off-road equipment in a decade or maybe a little longer.”

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