OXFORD was introduced to a new technology yesterday that is set to tackle the car industry’s battle with carbon emissions.

As electric cars become more common the next big automotive tech trend on the horizon is hydrogen cars.

At a hydrogen car roadshow hosted by Arval - a vehicle leasing company - held at Oxford University Museum of Natural History, representatives from big and small car brands presented their new hydrogen cars to industry experts.

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Hydrogen cars - also known as hydrogen fuel cell cars - are powered by hydrogen energy which is passed through a fuel cell to be converted into electrical energy.

Instead of CO2 emissions, heat and water is released into the environment while the electrical energy is used to power an electric motor.

Paul Marchment, from Arval, spoke at the roadshow yesterday and joked: “When I went to a school to teach children about hydrogen technology, they wanted me to prove to them that the car only emits water. So, I thought the only way to prove it would be to drink the water from the exhaust – and I did.”

Representatives from Hyundai, Toyota and Welsh car brand, Silversimple, spoke about the new hydrogen cars that they have developed.

Hyundai’s hydrogen car currently on the market is the Nexo. It is the brand’s second of its kind and competes against its only rival in the UK, the Toyota Mirai.

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Sylvie Childs, from Hyundai, said: “We believe there isn't one solution to climate change but that there is a mosaic of solutions. We have battery electric cars and hydrogen cars, while hybrids are a good stepping stone for people who don’t want to completely go electric or hydrogen at the moment.”

The main problem that the industry faces with hydrogen technology is the infrastructure to support it.

Just like petrol and diesel cars, hydrogen cars also need stations to refuel at.

ITM Power specialises in the manufacturing of hydrogen energy systems and has just seven hydrogen refuelling stations across the UK. It also provides existing petrol stations with hydrogen refuelling pumps.

Charles Purkess, from ITM, said at the roadshow yesterday: “It’s a journey to get to the stage where the hydrogen system is at the right scale and we can make a profit. At the moment we’re currently dispensing 20 tonnes of hydrogen a year.”

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Arval is also working with Hydrogen Hub which is a project that aims to 'bring together industry, local businesses, local stakeholders and local authorities to develop and deploy hydrogen and fuel cell projects to meet the energy and transportation needs of the local community.'

Councillor Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for transport, said the council welcomes the initiative.

She said: “There’s a recognition that technology can solve many problems in the county and hydrogen plays a key role in the decarbonisation of transport. We are hugely interested in this innovation and we wish it well."