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Hydrogen ambulance set to enter service in London later this year

A project which aims to deliver a prototype zero-emission ambulance for the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust (LAS) is set to be complete by autumn 2021.

The ZERRO (Zero-Emission Rapid Response Operations) project is being led by Liverpool-based hydrogen commercial vehicle conversion firm ULEMCo, who says it has delivered the fist significant milestone in creating the zero-emission ambulance.

The project is now progressing to the prototype build stage, which incorporates a hydrogen fuel cell range extender with an electric drive, low frame chassis, along with a bespoke lightweight ambulance body designed and manufactured by Woodall Nicholson Group’s Mellor, Promech Technologies and VCS Limited.

It incorporates features to address the specific requirements for a zero emission ambulance of the future.

These include innovations such as a low access floor that removes the need for patient lifting equipment, and a frame-based body that ensures that the overall weight of the vehicle can meet the payload requirements of the service.

Working with ULEMCo and LAS are Lyra Electronics, who brings its specialist DC-DC electronics capability, and Ocado with its experience of light-weighting and experience of the practical use of electric vehicles. Promech Technologies is providing its existing battery technology solution and expertise.

The ZERRO project has marked its first birthday with the sign off of the new design. As it now moves to the build phase, the plan is to have the working prototype fully CEN approved and ready for testing in London by the autumn, according to ULEMCo.

Amanda Lyne, managing director, ULEMCo said: “Given the energy need of the NHS ambulance duty cycle, it seems clear that hydrogen is needed to provide the range and vehicle availability for emergency response.

“Working with Mellor, Promech Technologies and VCS Limited, we have the advantage of designing a bespoke ambulance based on their current battery technology vehicle platform.

“This has enabled us to apply our capability in integrating hydrogen fuel cell range extension systems, and to prove that this will be a really viable and practical solution for NHS fleets across the UK.”