Paul Turner, director of the company whose innovative research into electrical vehicle integration with light weighting technologies paved the way for the modern electric London taxi, has called on the government to do more to support the nation’s innovators.
Turner revealed that Revolve Technologies’ success has been down to the the development of innovative solutions for their customers.
‘In the mid-2000s,’ he explains, ‘we developed a hydrogen vehicle for two universities to conduct research into hydrogen refuelling, and through cost constraints we utilised normal petrol engines rather than fuel cells. This project gave us the understanding of hydrogen systems and we have since worked with two OEMs on fuel cell vehicle applications. With support from Innovate UK, the concept was developed into diesel engines and perfected the use of hydrogen in the compression ignition engine.
‘Exploiting this innovation has enabled us to support our customers with novel solutions to reduce carbon emissions. We have helped ULEMCo Ltd to develop and deploy over 35 diesel/hydrogen applications as well as several fuel cell ones. Hydra Inc. of Canada also now has solutions for 60-tonne road train vehicles and CMB of Belgium has a hydrogen/diesel passenger ferry operating on the River Scheldt – all as a result of our solutions.’
Innovation is seldom possible without collaboration and this was also the story for Turner and Revolve.
‘Revolve,’ said Turner, ‘has developed many of its greatest innovations in both hydrogen and electric vehicles with the support of both Innovate UK and the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC). We are extremely pleased and thankful to these funding bodies to allow us to develop many of the innovations that are now going into production for our customers.’
However, Turner expressed his frustration at some of the outdated legislation that continues to get in the way of true innovation.
‘We have found it challenging to migrate innovation to product,’ he explains, ‘not only due to the Valley of Death but through the intransigents of incumbent legislation which was written around the existing technologies and takes no practical account of new innovations with extremely little help, or even obstruction, from the UK agencies tasked with supporting certification/approvals.
‘This has caused several major innovative projects to stop and has substantially slowed the application of range-extended and hybrid trucks and hydrogen use in commercial vehicles. We do need our legislative bodies to adapt to new technologies and support the necessary changes to allow the fast pace of innovative change in the automotive sector to continue unabated.’
With the United Kingdom now outside the regulatory control of the EU, it remains to be seen whether the legislative burden on the nation’s innovators will increase or decrease.
In his acclaimed 2020 book, How Innovation Works, Matt Ridley argues that the crucial thing for legislators to bear in mind is that innovation is not only stopped by law makers saying ‘no’, it can just as easily be halted by them slowing everything down as they take too long to grant assent. Indeed, one of the most quotable lines in the book is, ‘It’s not saying no that’s the problem: it’s saying yes slowly.’