The first hydrogen ambulance will come to London later this year built by conversion specialist Ulemco. Named Zerro (short for Zero Emission Rapid Response Operations), Ulemco teams up with Lyra Electronics, Ocado and Promech Technologies for realising the fuel-cell-range-extended EV.
Ulemco aims to deliver the Zerro prototype to the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust in autumn. Currently in production, the fuel cells for the hydrogen ambulance come from Ballard with 30 kW. There is also 8-kilo hydrogen storage and a 92 kWh battery onboard with Promech Technologies adding its existing battery technology and expertise.
“Given the energy need of the NHS ambulance duty cycle, it seems clear that hydrogen fuel is needed to provide both the range and vehicle availability for emergency response requirements,” said Amanda Lyne, Managing Director of Ulemco.
In the new ambulance, the fuel cell acts as a range-extender to charge the battery when needed, making the Zerro a battery-electric vehicle, strictly speaking. Ulemco claims an average daily range of 200 miles, with a top speed of 90mph.
One of the requirements was weight and the ambulance features what Ulemco says is a bespoke lightweight body sat on a low-frame chassis. There is also a low-access floor to make it easier to transport patients and is suitable for a payload of at least 900kg.
A spokesman explained that they wanted to “show that this weight target can be met with the combination of this powertrain configuration and the lightweight structure, and using a low-floor design rather than needing to include heavy lifting equipment, alongside work to integrate the internal electrical power needs within overall vehicle electrical system design.”
The hydrogen tank and most of the electronics are mounted within the roof section.
Liverpool-based Ulemco was founded in 2014 as a hydrogen conversion company. They currently specialise in commercial fleet conversions but plan to expand to other vehicle types in the longer term. It also intends to create a hydrogen refuelling network.