Energy-efficient cars will be put through their paces at the upcoming Shell Eco-marathon. We take a look at what the event’s all about and hydrogen’s role in the future of zero emissions transport.

Between July 5-8, some of the best and brightest young minds in Europe will be heading to London 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. We will have a virtual reality stand at the Make the Future Festival, which runs alongside the Shell Eco-marathon, showcasing our hydrogen technologies and solutions.

Thomas Schaefer, Marketing Manager for Linde’s Hydrogen and Mobility Solutions Team, will be acting as the hydrogen spokesperson at the Shell Eco-marathon this year. He discusses why the event is so important and what hydrogen vehicle developments are really getting him excited at the moment…

From the point of view of Linde why is the Shell Eco-marathon such an important event?
It’s a great opportunity to link up with 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 ensure that our pioneering technology gets visibility.

And it’s just a great platform for meeting like-minded people who are interested in furthering zero-emissions transport and taking technology to the next level.

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 also have the world’s first hydrogen-powered passenger trains being launched in the coming years. 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’s economically viable too.

Why are hydrogen fuel cells such an important technology?
Put simply, they are the future of enabling hydrogen mobility. They are really practical – they can power vehicles over long ranges and allow for refuelling in minutes, making them a much more realistic solution for people than battery power. They’re 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 the most 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 BMNW & Wall-Mart to power fork lift trucks and in the UK, BOC and TCP have deployed 100s 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 Shell Eco-marathon and Linde’s role in the event