Hydrogen bus catches fire in London, forcing fleet out of service

Hydrogen bus catches fire in London, forcing fleet out of service

July 14, 2011 0 By Dan Holguin

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A hydrogen bus fire in London may dampen people’s willingness to accept the alternative fuel.

The fire occurred amongst London’s first fleet of hydrogen powered buses last month. Mayor Boris Johnson has long been a staunch advocate for hydrogen fuel, but has come under sharp criticisms of late due to the tragedy. The entire fleet has been withdrawn from service for emergency modifications that will increase the safety of the vehicles and prevent such disasters from occurring in the future.

The fleet of buses was launched at the beginning of this year. Johnson hailed the vehicles as “marvels of hydrogen technology” at the time. Government officials held reservations about making use of fuel cells, given their expense and the volatile nature of the fuel.


Clean Energy Quotes To Remember - “For example, a breakthrough in better batteries could supplant hydrogen. Better solar cells could replace or win out in this race to the fuel of the future. Those, I see, as the three big competitors: hydrogen, solar cells and then better batteries.”

- Bob Inglis, Politician


The fuel cells, however, were not the culprit of the fire, according to engineers with Transport for London.

The bus in question was set ablaze on June 12th, but was out of service at the time and held no passengers. It is as yet unclear what exactly caused the fire, but engineers working on the vehicle assert that it was not due to the hydrogen fuel system.

Since the event, political hopefuls have been decrying the Mayor’s focus on hydrogen fuel. Johnson, however, remains unshaken in his resolve to move London toward a more hydrogen-centric energy infrastructure. The fleet will be modified to prevent further happenings and will return to duty in the coming weeks.