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LSBU researchers investigating metal hydride hydrogen storage for buses

Researchers from London South Bank University (LSBU), School of the Built Environment and Architecture, are investigating the use of metal hydrides to absorb, release and store hydrogen for fuel cell buses.

The LSBU project aims to deliver:

  • Improved safety with hydrogen stored at lower pressures in smaller cylinders on buses instead of the large high-pressure cylinders that are currently used.

  • More space on buses because large high-pressure cylinders are replaced by smaller cylinders.

  • Reduced power consumption because the new storage system could provide the bus with cooling power for air conditioning.


Principle of a metal hydride tank for the reversible storage of hydrogen. Hydrogen is stored by reaction with a metal to form a hydride (exothermic reaction). On demand, the hydrogen is released from the hydride (endothermic reaction), utilizing the waste heat of the fuel cell. From Adelhelm & Jongh (2011)

Among the issues facing the use of metal hydrides for hydrogen storage is the energy required to get hydrogen in and out of the material. Thermal management for charging and releasing hydrogen from the storage system needs to be optimized to increase overall efficiency.

LSBU has been awarded £60,000 (US$80,000) of government funding from Innovate UK for the project and will work with Ricardo. Ricardo engineers have been asked to support the project due to their expertise in vehicle thermal management and re-using waste heat, which can be useful in reducing the energy needed to help release the hydrogen from storage ready for capture.

Ricardo is supporting the London South Bank University with design and analysis for three months and will prepare the second phase of the project which is aimed at developing a prototype.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles produce very low carbon emissions and no air pollution which makes them vital to cleaning our air and tackling climate change. But concerns have been raised about the size, cost and safety of hydrogen storage in buses.

Our LSBU project aims to develop a safer and cheaper way of storing hydrogen which takes up less space than the large high-pressure hydrogen tanks that are used in buses today.

—Yunting Ge, LSBU Professor of Building Services Engineering

Professor Ge is also the principal investigator (PI) for H2-Heat: Thermal energy transport for heating and cooling with innovative hydrogen technologies. EP/T022760/1. EPSRC funding award. Total value of this project is £979,291 (Oct. 2020-Sept. 2023).


  • Adelhelm, Philipp & Jongh, Petra. (2011). “The impact of carbon materials on the hydrogen storage properties of light metal hydrides.” J. Mater. Chem. 21. 2417-2427. doi: 10.1039/C0JM02593C.



Batteries vs H2 - the battle continues.
Good to have an alternative to batteries. I think it all comes down to range / energy required. Batteries are better for short range, H2 for longer range, if you cannot charge every so often.
Another approach would be to have battery + intermittent catenary.
Thus, you have no wires in the city centers, but wires in the longer runs on the suburbs (where it is easier to put them up).
You would need the ability to hook on/off without stopping, perhaps slowing down a little. That would enable extended battery operation + you wouldn't have to charge during the day, you could charge on the move.


"..high-pressure cylinders are replaced by smaller cylinders.."
Buses can carry the weight, high pressure cylinders have to be
replaced, they expand and contract.

Mark van Asperen

one word : expensive !

Mark van Asperen

like fuel cells , way too expensive.


@Mark van Asperen

Please share the referenced cost figures you are using to decide that a hydride is too expensive, as I am not aware of any at all which can indicate what is going on to make a judgement on such early stage work.


H2 buses have been running for 20 years, they have cost data.


If the technologies involved were static, the data from the 20 years of H2 buses would show costs.

Since none of them are, including everything from hydrogen costs to the cost of the fuel stack to the costs of both high pressure containment and hydrides, then they are of little or no use.

What is needed are current costings.

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