Design agreed for ‘ZERRO’ – the zero-emission ambulance for London

Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle expected to reach London roads this year

ULEMCo, the Liverpool-based UK hydrogen fuel pioneer, and their partners have delivered the first significant milestone to create the zero-emission ambulance of the future.

The project, named ZERRO (Zero-Emission Rapid Response Operations) ambulance, is funded by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV), and aims to deliver a prototype zero-emission ambulance for the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust (LAS) by autumn this year.

ULEMCo is leading the project, and with its partners has achieved an agreed design for the hydrogen powered ambulance.

This is now progressing to the prototype build stage, which 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.

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.

“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”

Amanda Lyne, Managing Director, ULEMCo.

Working with ULEMCo and LAS are Lyra Electronics who bring their specialist DC-DC electronics capability, and Ocado with their 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.

“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,”, says Amanda Lyne, Managing Director of ULEMCo.

“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.”   

“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”   

Amanda Lyne, Managing Director, ULEMCo.

Chris Rutherford, Head of Fleet Strategy & Transformation at LAS added: “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.”

John Randerson, Chief Technology Officer at Woodall Nicholson, said: “We’re delighted that three of our companies have been selected to work alongside ULEMCo on the ZERRO project for LAS.

“We have a proven track record in delivering innovative vehicle solutions in the Blue Light and passenger transport sectors. Through our Promech Technologies company, we continue to develop and expand our new energy expertise.”

“Hydrogen continues to play an increasingly important role in the energy mix,” said Dr Francesca Iudicello, Programme Manager – Automotive at Innovate UK.

“We are proud to support this important work, and look forward to seeing the benefits of zero emission vehicles with a high readiness for service.”        

About ULEMCo

ULEMCo Ltd is the world’s first hydrogen commercial vehicle conversion company, enabling fleet, commercial and niche vehicle owners to have access to zero emission hydrogen fuel, as part of their strategies to reduce transport related carbon emissions.
ULEMCo is based in Liverpool, UK and was founded in 2014 as a spin out of Revolve Technologies, to commercialise intellectual property and capability in hydrogen combustion engine technology.

The company converts vehicles, having started with diesel Ford Transit vans, to enable them to run on commercially available hydrogen. The technology allows vehicle fleet managers to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions to ultra-low levels.
Commercial fleets across the UK benefit from a reduced carbon foot print while still having the full range capability of standard diesel vehicles.

Alongside various partners, ULEMCo already supports a fleet of vehicles across a range of hydrogen hubs in the UK. The company is targeting commercial fleet conversions to grow the market significantly over the next 18 months, and then expand into other vehicle types over the longer term.

Its growth plans include creating a hydrogen re-fuelling network to capitalise on the existing local infrastructure for this ‘green’ fuel.

About London Ambulance Service

London Ambulance Service answers more 999 and 111 calls than any other ambulance service in the UK. Our crews go to more than 3000 emergencies a day and handle over two million 999 calls a year. Our 24-hour 111 integrated urgent care services in north east and south east London answer more than 1.2million calls a year.

We are the only NHS provider trust to serve the whole of London and the nine million people who live in, work in or visit the city. We cover an area of 620sq miles and our average response time to the most serious emergencies is less than seven minutes. We have 8000 people who work or volunteer for us and together we are striving to ensure patients receive the right response, in the right place, at the right time.

We work closely with our NHS partners including NHS England, our commissioners, hospitals, specialist trusts and the five sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and Integrated Care Systems (ICS). We play a leading role in integrating access to emergency and urgent care in the capital. 

Our collaboration with the Metropolitan Police Service, London Fire Brigade, London’s Air Ambulance and London’s Resilience Forums means we are ready and prepared to respond to major incidents; and ensure we keep Londoners safe.

By integrating our 999 and 111 services we are able to treat more patients over the phone; in their home; or refer them to appropriate care in their own community. This is key in achieving our strategic ambition of reducing the number of unnecessary trips to hospital; and should mean 122,000 fewer patients a year being taken to emergency departments.

About Lyra Electronics

Lyra Electronics, founded in 2011 and based in the West Midlands, specialises in the design & development of highly efficient DCDC converters, inverters and motor drives for industrial and automotive applications.

About Promech Technologies

Promech Technologies applies its knowledge in chassis and drive line engineering to meet the diverse needs of vehicle manufacturers and converters. It solves complex technical challenges with a specialism in new energy vehicles. 

From concept through to delivery of product, Promech’s unique offering provides innovative designs and products that are manufactured to the highest standards.

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