College adds hydrogen fuel training to automotive facility

By Tim Aldred

26 Oct 2023

Blackburn College HEAT Hydrogen

Blackburn College has extended the range of its Hybrid Electric Automotive Training (HEAT) facility with the addition of a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) training rig.

HEAT, which opened in November 2022, is a dedicated centre to develop and deliver training to bridge skills gaps and meet the demands of greener vehicle technologies, including hybrid, electric and now hydrogen.

The fully-interactive Toyota Mirai training rig from Block Automotive will give its students – and the region’s wider automotive industry – practical, hands-on experience to further prepare them for the mass roll-out of alternatively fuelled vehicles.

Although the ban on new petrol and diesel car sales in the UK has been extended to 2035, the motor industry is increasing development of alternatively fuelled vehicles to support the need to reduce reliance in fossil fuel.

This additional investment has been funded by the Department for Education Skills Accelerator Development Fund Pilot after the UK government announced a £77m investment in to new zero-emission vehicle projects.

In addition to providing hydrogen training as part of its post-16 existing Levels 1 to 4-course offering, the college will be working closely with the region’s SME garages, mechanics, dealerships, vehicle recovery and emergency services to offer dedicated training on servicing, repairing and importantly, the safety aspects of working with hydrogen vehicles.

Michael Yerbury, advanced automotive technical trainer at HEAT, said: "There is agreement in the industry that hydrogen will play a major role in the decarbonisation of transport. It’s likely that, in the not-so-distant future, drivers will have a choice of battery powered electric vehicles and FCEVs, depending on their needs.

“While some might think this is years away from realisation, we’re seeing a huge push from car manufacturers on their NetZero investments. This also includes hydrogen fuelling stations being installed on some of the UK’s major transport routes.

“But, there’s a huge skills shortage in the industry at the moment, which is why we’re so excited to be at the forefront of this cutting-edge technology as the first Further Education college in the country to offer FCEV training. This latest investment places the College at the forefront of automotive skills in East Lancashire and will not only enable us to give our students the skills they need to take on the jobs of tomorrow, but will help upskill the motor industry as a whole."

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