FEATURE: Five minutes with Daniel Musenga-Grant, Senior Project Manager at HV Systems

02 October 2019

HV Systems is a UK-based company committed to building advanced, state-of-the-art commercial vehicles that adopt zero emission hydrogen-powered drivetrains. The Glasgow company is developing both an HGV and a van with a plan to launch prototypes in 2020. We talk to Senior Project Manager Daniel Musenga-Grant about H2Van and the company’s aspirations for it.

Tell us a little bit about H2Van – how did it come about?

Back in 2017 our founders Abdul Waheed and Emil Rangelov (COO and CEO respectively) saw a gap in the market for zero-emission commercial vehicles. Since then we’ve worked tirelessly to design and develop two hydrogen-powered heavy vehicles HV Truck – a big HGV – and H2Van, for smaller applications.

Now we’ve built a team of automotive and technology experts to bring it to market and our H2Van prototype is almost complete. The simple reason why H2Van exists is to help decarbonise commercial transport.

What are its benefits?

Using hydrogen as a fuel means our vehicle’s only tailpipe emission is water, leading to massive reductions in emissions. Other benefits include exemption from congestion charges, the ability to enter low-emission zones, zero road tax, and using H2Van future-proofs your fleet.

What technology did you use?

We use Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology. Hydrogen is stored in canisters onboard, and the fuel cell combines it with oxygen to create water and electricity. That energy is then used to run the motors or can be stored in a small battery. One of the great things about all-electric powertrain vehicles is they have far fewer moving parts than traditional internal combustion engines. This leads to lower maintenance costs and less downtime.

What were the main challenges?

The main challenge facing HV Systems and the hydrogen economy, as a whole, is the current lack of infrastructure. We already produce vast amounts of hydrogen as part of industrial processes, but we also have the technology and access to the renewable energy we need to produce green hydrogen via electrolysis.

At HV Systems we are working closely with our partners to offer a complete ‘back to base’ refuelling solution. The long-range and quick refuelling nature of hydrogen vehicles makes this perfectly viable for logistics operations until we can get a more substantial nationwide refuelling network in place.

What are the aims and goals for the van?

We want H2Van to offer our customers the chance to significantly reduce their emissions without having to change their business model. The range of up to 400 miles and quick refuelling times are similar to existing diesel vans. A combination of the reduced maintenance costs and the falling price of both hydrogen technology and fuel – as the economies of scale take hold – allow us to achieve these goals.

How do you see this van fitting into the logistics chain?

In the short term, I see H2Van becoming the vehicle of choice for large last-mile delivery companies, who can afford to implement the ‘back to base’ refuelling strategy. In the future, however, when more hydrogen refuelling stations are set up (the International Council on Clean Transportation estimates around 65 in the UK alone by the end of 2020), I think H2Van can become the everyday van for small and large businesses alike.

Recently we have seen big logistics companies such as Amazon and DHL working with EV manufacturers to develop their own vehicles. Is this part of the strategy?

Yes, it is. We are already in discussion with a few of the big logistics companies and are working together to help them add to their ever-expanding greener fleets.