ULEMCo, the hydrogen commercial vehicle conversion company, and its partners have agreed to the designs for the zero-emission ambulance of the future. Named ZERRO, or Zero Emission Rapid Response Operations, it will be the first hydrogen-fuelled ambulance for the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust (LAS) delivered by autumn this year.
The project is being funded by the Office for Zero-Emission Vehicles (OZEV) and is now progressing to the prototype build stage. The prototype incorporates a hydrogen fuel cell range extender with an electric drive, low frame chassis, and bespoke lightweight ambulance body designed and manufactured by Woodall Nicholson Group’s Mellor, Promech Technologies, and VCS Limited.
Its features include the 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. The ZERRO vehicle will have the ability to haul a payload of at least 900 kg. The hydrogen tank and most of the power electronics are mounted within the roof section.
The prototype will be powered by a combination of a 30kW fuel cell provided by Ballard, with 8kg of on-board hydrogen storage and a 400V 92kWh battery. According to the company, the ZERRO ambulance can reach the top speed of 90 mph (145 km/h) and an average daily range of 200 miles (322 km).
Other project partners, Lyra Electronics will bring their specialist DC-DC electronics capability, and Ocado with their experience of light-weighting and experience of the practical use of electric vehicles.
“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.
“This project is a key part of our strategy for a zero-emission fleet, to support the NHS aim to be the world’s first net-zero national health service, and to meet or exceed the clean air requirements in London,” added Chris Rutherford, Head of Fleet Strategy & Transformation at LAS.