London police using fuel-cell scooters to fight crime, emissions

London’s metropolitan police will use hydrogen fuel cells to power scooters in a trial of zero-emissions technology to fight crime and pollution.

The fuel cells will be supplied by Intelligent Energy Holdings Plc, according to a statement from the Loughborough, U.K.-based company. Each cell will be able to generate 4 kilowatts of electricity through a chemical reaction, about the same as a solar panel system for a family home.

Adopting clean transport would allow London police force to crack down on greenhouse gas emissions that have increasingly become a public health concern. London broke the annual limit for air pollution just five days into 2017, according to the capital’s main monitoring system.

“A key concern today is air pollution in London and other urban centers throughout the world,” said Martin Bloom, chief executive officer of Intelligent Energy. “Fleet vehicles will play a role in achieving this. With no established refueling infrastructure needed.”

Fuel cells have slowly moved toward commercialization, leaving laboratories after years of experimentation. Companies are designing them for diverse applications from home heating to oil and gas extraction and transportation.

Hydrogen fuel cells compete with electric motors for a share of the clean transport market. Refueling takes about the same amount of time as filling up at a petrol station, faster than a plug-in can charge which typically takes at least 30 minutes. However, the supply chain for hydrogen is nascent and the cells are not yet mass-produced unlike the lithium-ion batteries that go into cars such as Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt.

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