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A Lighter Route to Cleaner Air?

London is spearheading the drive to cut pollution by investing heavily in hydrogen-powered buses. But is there a better way?

Published: 20-Jul-2006

London has long been known for its poor air quality. The city suffers from one of the worst air quality ratings in Europe, and official statistics suggest that air pollution contributes to the deaths of up to 1,600 Londoners every year.
Blame the millions of vehicles that pour into the city daily, clogging the city's arteries as surely as soot sticks to a chimney. Three-quarters of all air pollutants in London come from the roads; so the promise of a new generation of vehicle that leaves no pollution should prove as welcome as an open window on a sweltering day.

London is investing heavily in hydrogen, and spearheading this transport revolution is one of the city's most recognisable symbols. The first stop on the road to a hydrogen-based economy is being made by the red London bus.

Capital-dwellers might have seen one of the three hydrogen buses patrolling the RV1 route between Covent Garden and the Tower of London. Save for stickers displaying its green credentials, a hydro-bus looks exactly like a regular single-decker. But listen carefully: it is barely louder than a milk float. Look closely and you'll notice its only emission is a plume of steam.

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