Mayor challenges engineers to design next generation of hydrogen cars

09 July 2013

The Mayor Boris Johnson is calling on London’s secondary school children to get creative with green technology and come up with new and innovative designs for hydrogen-fuelled cell cars.

Schools are invited to register now for the chance to take part in the Mayor’s 2014 London Schools Hydrogen Challenge - a series of 30 interactive workshops where around 900 students will design, build and test a hydrogen-powered model car.

Using custom-designed Lego kits and 1.5W hydrogen fuel cells supplied by Arcola Energy, teams from schools across the capital will pit their designs against each other for a chance to snap up prizes including remote control cars and hydrogen kits, while learning about renewable energies, mechanics and the environment.

The Hydrogen Challenge is designed to inspire the next generation of renewable energy engineers to get involved in developing cleaner, greener transport and help contribute to the Mayor’s commitment to cut carbon emissions and improve air quality in the capital.

With huge potential to power the cars, buses, mobile phones, laptops, home generators, and local power stations of the future, hydrogen also has a major role to play in London’s green economy. The capital's low carbon and environmental goods and services sector is already worth £27 billion to the capital, and growing fast.

Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor for Business and Enterprise, said: “London’s school-children are the innovators, entrepreneurs and engineers of the future, so it is crucial we engage and educate them in the latest scientific technologies. With hands-on, real experience we want to inspire the next generation to build on the capital’s economy, and create the jobs and growth London needs to remain the best big city in the world.”

Last year’s winners were Heartlands School in Haringey.

Head of Science, Elizabeth Goulding, said: “It was brilliant for the children to be involved in an amazing hands-on experience. They really enjoyed coming to City Hall, and came back to the classroom so much more engaged. They developed their team working skills as well as a new interest in science, and it had a great ripple effect across the class and school as a whole. We will definitely be back this year to fight for our title!”

Dr Ben Todd, Managing Director of Arcola Energy, said: "Arcola Energy is very pleased to be bringing the London Schools Hydrogen Challenge to young people across London, thanks to the support of the Mayor’s London Hydrogen Partnership, Transport for London and ITM Power. Our work, which spans industrial, transport, and domestic applications, has at its heart educating consumers about the incredible array of clean energy solutions now available. Empowering young people is the best possible way to start.”

Leading the way in tackling air quality, the Mayor has already brought in a programme of improvements, including hybrid buses and plans for an Ultra Low Emission Zone by 2020 which intends to restrict central London to those vehicles that have zero or near-zero tailpipe emissions. Hydrogen vehicles and the mass-market of hydrogen cars is a big part of this.

Notes to editors

• To find out more about the London Schools Hydrogen Challenge please visit 

• The London Schools Hydrogen Challenge is for secondary schools in London from key Stages 3 and 4 (years 7-11). Workshops and education kits have been designed with extensive input from teachers, education authorities and education consultants to deliver specific curriculum requirements. Success in achieving this has been confirmed by teacher feedback and referrals to peers. Workshops in schools will take place throughout November 2013 and January 2014 with the final in March 2014.

• The London Schools Hydrogen Challenge is subsidised by the Mayor of London through the London Hydrogen Partnership. The London Hydrogen Partnership is working to bring hydrogen technology forward in the capital so as to improve energy security and air quality, reduce greenhouse gases and noise, and support London's green economy.

• Arcola Energy is the UK partner to Horizon Fuel Cell, supplier of the fuel cells at the heart of the kits. Arcola Energy’s science and technology workshops, run by a team of expert practitioners, explore renewable energies (Hydrogen and Fuel Cells) and the possibilities that they offer for a low-carbon future. They offer a wide range of opportunities for pupils to learn in a creative environment. Arcola Energy has delivered similar workshops to over 4,500 pupils to date in the UK and overseas.

• Arcola is supported in developing and delivering the challenge by some of the world's leading hydrogen businesses. Sponsors include ITM Power, internationally renowned UK based hydrogen fuel systems manufacturer and Transport for London who operate a fleet of hydrogen powered buses, demonstrating the technology works reliably and efficiently in commercial use.

• Arcola is expanding the challenge nationwide and creating challenge partnerships around the world, working with hydrogen champions in regions across the UK including Rex Procter & Partners in West Yorkshire and Bright Green Hydrogen in Fife, Scotland.