Energy-efficient cars will once again be put through their paces at the annual Shell Eco-marathon Europe. We take a look at what the event is all about and hydrogen’s role in energy-efficient and zero emissions transport.

Between 2nd to 5th July some of the best and brightest young minds in Europe will be heading back to the UK for the Shell Eco-marathon Europe. Around 200 teams made up of thousands of students from across the continent will be competing to see which of their self-built, energy-efficient cars can travel the furthest on just one litre of fuel.

The annual event firmly puts the spotlight on zero emissions transport and BOC under the global Linde brand will be there to champion hydrogen’s role in making our roads cleaner and greener in the years to come.

Thomas Schaefer, Marketing Manager for Linde’s Hydrogen Fuelling Technologies team, discusses why the event is so important and what hydrogen vehicle developments are really getting him excited at the moment.

Thomas Kurt Schaefer at outside SEM19

From the point of view of Linde why is the Shell Eco-marathon such an important event?

It’s a great opportunity to work alongside dedicated, talented young people who will become the decision-makers of the future. It also provides us with the perfect arena to promote hydrogen as a fuel source.

And it’s just a great platform for meeting like-minded people who are interested in furthering zero-emissions transport.

What are some of the most exciting developments being seen in hydrogen-fuelled transport?

There is so much potential for hydrogen-fuelled transport and it’s been great to see so many opportunities coming to the market in recent years. For me, some of the most exciting developments have been in public transport. More and more communities are swapping their diesel-fuelled buses for hydrogen fleets. Cologne and Aberdeen have really led the way with this, but more and more cities are following in their footsteps.

In Germany, we are currently building the world’s first fuelling station for hydrogen-powered passenger trains starting operations by 2020. There’s a real shift towards fuel cell technology as people realise that not only is it zero emissions and good for the environment – it is also becoming economically viable.

We are also seeing more and more hydrogen being produced on-site by electrolysis powered by renewable energy which results in an end-to-end sustainable process.

Why are hydrogen fuel cells such an important technology?

Put simply, they are the future of enabling hydrogen mobility. Fuel cells are really practical – they can power vehicles over long ranges and allow for refuelling in minutes. Fuel cells are also not limited to cars, they can be used in lots of vehicles from buses to trains and boats – the possibilities are endless!

If we want to move towards a world where everyone is driving electric vehicles, we need more than batteries alone. Fuel cells are an effective way to achieve large-scale zero emissions driving.

How might we start to see hydrogen fuel in our everyday lives?

We’re already starting to see it as a big part of our day-to-day lives. There have been some great developments in public transport which mean thousands of people are being exposed to the technology daily. There are also car-sharing schemes like CleverShuttle in Germany which has incorporated hydrogen vehicles into its fleet. In the US, hydrogen fuel cells are already widely used by such companies as BMW and Wall-Mart to power fork lift trucks. Here In the UK, BOC and TCP have deployed 100’s hydrogen powered lighting towers into the construction sector. Projects like this are gaining more and more traction and greater numbers of people are becoming aware of them.

Find out more about the European leg of the Shell Eco-marathon and Linde’s role at the event.