COUNTDOWN TO: MIA EEMS2023 - Net Zero Motorsport Conference in association with WAE

British Motor Museum, Gaydon, 21 March, 2023

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The big questions on the road to zero emissions

According to Einstein’s law of energy conservation energy can neither be created nor destroyed only converted from one form to another. This means that the only way to use the energy is to transform it.

Apply that to a vehicle taking energy from fuel and converting it to motion. That block of energy is then broken down into smaller blocks for movement forward and backward, heating and operating accessories.

One of the highlights of Future Propulsion Conference (2-3 March) still on Matthew Morris’s mind is a presentation given by one of the leading makers of construction vehicles & equipment on switching to zero emissions hydrogen.

Image of hydrogen gas storage facility

The ICE to remain for heavy-duty construction vehicles?

Hydrogen is currently practically the only option for heavy-duty construction vehicles as pure electric does not provide enough energy and the load required would kill the batteries within a short period of time. Recharging would also be a problem for mining equipment working far underground - imagine the extension lead you would need for that!

Hydrogen is at least it is portable so you could have a tanker on site for refuelling. Out on the roads however, there is a very low number of hydrogen stations in the entire country where you can pull up and refuel.

Also the task of converting an ICE to run on hydrogen is very expensive, likewise developing biofuels from sustainable sources is also expensive.

It is for these reasons ICE will possibly never fully go away for this category of vehicles. As 2050 is the cut-off for zero emissions for HGVs and off-highway, one has to wonder if it is going to happen.

Meanwhile in automotive everyone is jumping on the electric bandwagon just at a time when encouragement for the consumer to adopt EVs is high but subsidies are much reduced. With plans to put in tens of thousands of charging stations in a bid to get more electrified cars on UK roads, the obvious big question is where is the power going to come from?

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