Five hydrogen powered cars have been unveiled at the University of Birmingham, making it the only university in the UK to run a fleet of vehicles powered in this way. 

The cars are powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, they are pollution free, virtually silent in operation, can travel up to 100 miles on a full tank of hydrogen and at speeds up to 50 miles per hour.

The vehicles, designed and built by Microcab Ltd, are being used in a study by the University’s School of Chemical Engineering to find out more about the viability of hydrogen in transport applications. They will be compared with the campus fleet of petrol, diesel and pure electric vehicles so that researchers can learn about their efficiency, performance and how they can be adapted in order to make hydrogen an attractive and cost effective option as a future fuel. 

Professor Kevin Kendall, lead investigator for the project and head of the University’s Fuel Cells Group, says, ‘The cars will now start to carry out tasks on the campus, including postal deliveries, recycling of materials and duties around the estate.  This will enable us to test the car components for reliability, get the cars road-legal and confirm their efficiency and cost effectiveness.’

Dr Waldemar Bujalski from the Fuel Cells Group, says, ‘We have the beginnings of a hydrogen infrastructure, as the University currently has a refuelling station on its campus, and there are more Midlands fuelling stations coming into operation over the coming months, so soon we expect to be able to drive between these sites in vehicles powered by hydrogen.’

Dr Bruno Pollet of University’s Fuel Cells Group says, ‘Thanks to the initial support from Advantage West Midlands and the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR), we are starting to make the necessary steps to gear up towards a zero emission campus as well as a hydrogen and fuel cell infrastructure, which will hopefully help to create new jobs and working partnerships with local businesses.’

John Jostins, Managing Director of Microcab, says, ‘This is a very special moment for the Microcab project - our first delivery of a fleet of vehicles.  This kind of zero emissions car has been a personal vision of mine for many years and the sight of five hydrogen fuel cell Microcabs running round the campus in convoy is truly wonderful for me.’

The research is part of the hydrogen energy project which has received funding from Regional Development Agency Advantage West Midlands to develop the use of hydrogen energy as a green fuel in collaboration with the University of Warwick.  The project is part of the Science City Initiative.


Notes to Editors

1. Microcab Industries Ltd. designed and built the hydrogen powered vehicles – the Microcab H4.  The have been purchased by the University to take part in the project.  For further information visit

2. Birmingham Science City

Birmingham Science City is a widely drawn partnership of industry, business, education and the public sector, working together to establish the West Midlands region as a centre for world-class scientific research.  By building on the region's well established reputation for innovation, working closely with the knowledge base and  bringing partners together through supported projects and communications, Birmingham Science City aims to promote the value of science and innovation in improving Quality of Life. 

For more information please visit

3. University of Birmingham Fuel Cell Group

The Fuel Cell Group was set up in 2000 in the Department of Chemical Engineering  by Professor Kevin Kendall who jointly, with Dr Waldemar Bujalski and Dr Bruno G. Pollet, is leading the research projects in hydrogen vehicles and Combined Heat and Power systems stemming from a range of AWM funding including the Science City initiative.  For more information visit

4. Hydrogen Supply for the fuelling station

The hydrogen is supplied by Green Gases Ltd.  It is produced by ‘green’ means – therefore it is manufactured from renewable energy, resulting in a considerable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when compared with conventionally produced hydrogen -

For further information

Kate Chapple, Press Officer, University of Birmingham, tel 0121 414 2772 or 07789 921164.