UCL News


UCL is first university to host a production fuel cell car

20 November 2018

UCL is hosting a Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell production car – the world’s first saloon version – making it the first UK university to do so.

Dr Michael Whiteley shows PhD students the Toyota Mirai's fuel cell

UCL’s main quad is playing host to the Mirai for the next year, and researchers from UCL’s Electrochemical Innovation Lab (EIL) will also use the car to demonstrate its capabilities and further develop their understanding of the technology.

The Mirai will complement the EIL in its studies into how fuel cells can be combined with new battery technologies. It will be used to travel from the main campus to UCL East in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, which will open in 2021 and represents the largest ever single expansion of the university since it was founded.

Dr Michael Whiteley, Head of Fuel Cell Engineering at the UCL Electrochemical Innovation Lab, said: Our research into fuel cell technology shows it’s a serious alternative to fossil fuel cars. We’re excited to take delivery of our own Toyota Mirai fuel cell car on the UCL Quad and also at UCL East, where our new Advance Propulsion Lab will be based.

“We’ll be testing the car on London’s busy roads and using it to demonstrate the technology. The next stage of our work is to develop and evaluate hybrid, battery and fuel cell power systems for automotive applications, and having access to a fuel cell car will greatly enhance our position as a world-leader in fuel cell research and development.”

The Mirai is powered by a fuel cell stack which generates electricity on board through combining hydrogen and oxygen. On a full tank it can cover around 300 miles, with smooth, near-silent running and producing no emissions other than water.

UCL President & Provost, Professor Michael Arthur, said: “We’re delighted to be the first university to host a production fuel cell car. The technology could play a key role in mitigating climate change and it’s great to be at the forefront of this. The work carried out by the team in UCL’s Electrochemical Innovation Lab is key to developing fuel cell technology for the future, and the Advanced Propulsion Lab – to be homed at UCL East in Stratford – will help to cement us as the industry leader.”

Paul Van der Burgh, Toyota GB President and Managing Director said: “We hope that the technological breakthrough we have made with Mirai will help a new generation of UCL-trained scientists discover how fuel cell technology might be used to shape the powertrains of the future.

“Toyota believes in the great potential of hydrogen as a clean, practical and plentiful source of clean energy and is keen to encourage and support research into how these benefits to society can be realised.”

The Mirai was acquired with support from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), Hydrogen Mobility Europe (H2 ME) and the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCHJU) under Horizon 2020.

UCL’s Advanced Propulsion Lab will find its home at UCL East, UCL’s new campus on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Opening from 2021, UCL East represents the largest ever single expansion of UCL since the University was founded nearly 200 years ago. 



  • Dr Michael Whiteley shows PhD students the fuel cell inside the Toyota Mirai


Media contact

Kate Corry

Tel: +44 (0)20 3108 6995

Email: k.corry [at] ucl.ac.uk