Hydrogen taxis are unveiled for the 2012 Olympics

Taxis at London’s 2012 Olympics could be running on hydrogen fuel cell technology, if current trials are successful.

The hydrogen taxis would look identical to London’s usual black cabs, but like electric cars, the new taxi does not produce any emissions.

The fuel cells for the taxis are designed and built by Intelligent Energy, and use hydrogen to make electricity. Sports carmaker Lotus is responsible for integrating the fuel cell into the body of the taxi. Pressurised hydrogen produces electricity and feeds it to the taxi’s battery pack under the floor.

Impressively these hydro-taxis are capable of a top speed of 81mph, and can, according to Intelligent Energy, achieve a range of up to 250 miles on a full tank of hydrogen and reach 60mph in less than 14 seconds.

The taxis only take a few minutes to fill up from empty at one of six planned hydrogen filling stations in the capital. At these stations wind and solar power would be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

London’s deputy mayor, Kit Malthouse, said that the city would aim for a fleet of around 20 to 50 taxis in operation. The first few hydrogen taxis, which were funded in part by the government’s Technology Strategy Board, have already been built at the Lotus headquarters in Norfolk.

Transport for London (TfL) also aims to add 300 new diesel-electric hybrid buses by March 2011, after which time all new additions will have to be hybrids. Currently there are 56 hydrogen hybrid buses in circulation.

The TfL office also hopes to cut its carbon emissions by 40 per cent and save £90,000 per annum on utility bills with a newly unveiled green power plant.

The combined heat and power plant, which cost £2.4m was unveiled late last week, and is located at TfL’s Palestra building in Southwark.