The government has provided funding for a £500,000 project to develop hydrogen-enabled drivetrains for large vans and trucks.

Announced last week as part of the DfT and Innovate UK's £20m Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial, the scheme will enable the development of a zero-emission drivetrain, which will be incorporated into a 3.5-tonne van.

The 1,000kg payload vehicle will have an approximately 200-mile range, in urban use.

Hydrogen fuel system firm Arcola Energy will design a hydrogen-electric hybrid drivetrain, with a hydrogen fuel cell system providing extended range.

Project partner Haydale Composite Solutions will develop a 700bar hydrogen tank to suit the emerging refuelling standards and enable the range extension for the vehicle.

Commercial Group, operator of the largest commercial hydrogen-enabled vehicle fleet in the UK, will trial the vehicle - the first fully zero-emission vehicle in their hydrogen-powered fleet.

Ben Todd, MD at Arcola Energy, said: “From our experience in supplying zero-emission vans to end-users, we are only too aware of the absence of a zero-emission 3.5-tonne commercial vehicle in the marketplace.

“Thus, we are delighted to be working with other UK-based partners to deliver and commercially trial a scalable, practical approach to addressing this requirement.”

Arthur Hindmarch, MD at Commercial Group, added: “We are tremendously excited to be involved in a project that is not just at the cutting edge of zero-emission vehicle development, but which promises to re-invigorate the UK’s drivetrain manufacturing industry, harnessing the country’s long-standing capability in this area.

“We believe that hydrogen powered transport solutions are a key part of our zero-emission future and are proud to be an early adopter.”

A total of 20 projects are to be funded under the government trial, which aims to develop methods to enable widescale adoption of low-emissions vehicle across the freight and logistics sector.

Arcola Energy already works in partnership with ITM Power and Symbio FCell to provide a one-stop-shop service for operators wishing to use hydrogen vans within their fleet operations, providing buying advice, refuelling and maintenance support.