A car converted to hydrogen by a Somme start-up in the approval process, a world first

The world’s first hydrogen-converted car is just waiting for your approval to drive. An innovation made possible by a Picardy start-up and initiated by Transdev Normandie. The Nomad Car Hydrogène, autonomous up to 600 km, must be used for school transport between Rouen and Evreux.

A hydrogen car with a range of 5 to 600 km will soon be approved. And we owe this world first to a Picardy start-up. In Hangest-en-Santerre, on the Somme, the IBF H2 company developed this zero-emission vehicle.

Commissioned by the Normandy region and initiated by Transdev Normandy, the project forms part of the national hydrogen strategy and recovery plan. It brought together a dozen institutional, industrial and academic actors to develop the prototype presented on Monday, October 3, in Rivery, near Amiens. This revolutionary car, called Nomad Car Hydrogène, is intended for school transport between Rouen and Evreux.

Start-up IBF H2 spent two years studying the project and a year transforming the trainer. The principle: “retrofit” a diesel thermal bus into a hydrogen electric bus. The “retrofitting” action consists of adapting parts of a vehicle that is more than five years old (according to a decree of March 2020) for a new need. This technique was thus carried out on an Iveco bus belonging to the Transdev Normandie fleet.

How to “reform” a coach?

“We remove all the part of the vehicle that pollutes, that is, the diesel engine that emits greenhouse gases, CO2… And we integrated a kit [produit en Asie, ndlr] that evacuates zero emissions”, explains Alexis Rambaud, project manager. The new electric motor is powered by a fuel cell that turns hydrogen into electricity.

video length: 41 sec

Adaptation of a diesel thermal bus into a hydrogen electric bus.

©Jérôme Arrignon / France Televisions

The bus structure was reinforced to support the hydrogen cylinders and the dashboard was transformed and simplified. The first thing that Vitor Magalhães, mechanic-driver of the IBF H2 notices is the silence of the vehicle when driving. “It doesn’t make noise, it’s flexible and it’s really pleasant to drive”he says.

The IBF H2 designers have already financed this promising project with their own resources, in the amount of one million euros. They now hold all the patents. “It’s the future! Hydrogen will replace oil”believes Fernand De Sousa, director of startup IBF H2. “This vehicle runs with zero emissions. It is 100% clean. It emits only water vapor”he rejoices.

In France, industrial hydrogen production represents “over 900,000 tons per year”, according to data from the Ministry of Ecological Transition. it is produced “94% of fossil fuels in France (gas, coal, hydrocarbons)”specifies the ministry which adds that the production of hydrogen is “responsible for the emission of 11.5 Mt of CO2 in France, that is, approximately 3% of national emissions”.

But hydrogen can be produced economically and without carbon thanks to water electrolysis technology, which consists of “separating a water molecule into hydrogen and oxygen providing electricity, provided the electricity used to produce it is produced without the use of fossil fuels”watch the ministry. “The aim is to put [le car] in operation where there is green hydrogen”highlights project manager Alexis Rambaud.

The start-up IBF H2 is now approached by many French cities, regions or foreign countries, to develop this alternative to fossil fuels in their territory. “We are approached by many countries like Saudi Arabia, Israel, Morocco, Dubai…”list Fernand De Sousa that “to repent” While “the Hauts-de-France region [les] doesn’t help much”.

The testing phase is now complete. It remains only to obtain homologation before the official inauguration of this hydrogen car.

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