Millbrook Proving Ground, a test and development facility for whole vehicles, components and systems, based in Bedfordshire, has opened a new Air Products SmartFuel hydrogen fuelling station as it prepares for a take-off in fuel cell vehicles.

The fuelling station was officially opened by business minister, Michael Fallon, on his first day in the job, and makes Millbrook the only vehicle testing site in the UK with its own hydrogen fuelling station.

Fallon opened the SmartFuel hydrogen fuelling station during the Low Carbon Vehicle 2012 conference, and represents a major step forward for the development of a hydrogen infrastructure designed to cut carbon emissions from transport.

The station’s dual pressure fuelling capability (350 and 700 bar) allows it to power state of the art fuel cell demonstration vehicles that store hydrogen at a higher pressure, and it will be the country’s only mobile hydrogen station capable of refuelling both buses and cars.

It is the only UK station that has been fully certified by General Motors to J2601, which means it is fully compliant with safety limits and performance requirements for gaseous hydrogen fuel dispensers.

Fallon commented, “I’m pleased to open the UK’s first 700 bar hydrogen fuelling station at a vehicle testing site. Government is committed to supporting the advancement of low carbon vehicle technology, which is why we have pledged £400m over the course of this parliament to support the development of ultra low carbon vehicles.”

The fuelling station has been supplied and installed by Air Products, which has also recently provided a station to Transport for London to power one of the largest hydrogen fuelled bus fleets in Europe. As well as recently opening fuelling stations in Freiburg and Hamburg, as co-ordinators of the EU funded HyTEC project, Air Products has just opened a new fuelling station at Heathrow Airport to power a set of fuel cell taxis.

Managing director of Millbrook, Miguel Fragoso, explained, “Millbrook has a strong relationship with all of the partners involved in this project and is delighted to provide the UK’s first commercially available hydrogen refuelling station at an automotive test facility. Millbrook tests and develops the widest diversity of low carbon vehicles, and has the benefit of working with many vehicle manufacturers across a variety of markets and sectors, from motorcycles and passenger cars to buses and trucks. Millbrook is playing a key role in bringing decarbonisation to market.”

Diana Raine, Air Products, European business manager hydrogen energy, added, “The new fuelling station at Millbrook provides a strategic link between the hydrogen facilities in the London and the Midlands, representing a huge step in the ongoing development of hydrogen infrastructure network in the UK. It also shows a real commitment by one of Europe’s leading test facilities to support the development of low carbon transport. Hydrogen transport is a reality now – with the right fuelling infrastructure at the testing and development stage, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles can be used across the whole of the UK.”