Britain’s first hydrogen fuel station will open in Birmingham tomorrow, in the first stage of a motoring-technology revolution that will potentially pave the way for the commercial production of fuel cell-powered vehicles.

The station will open at Birmingham University, which is conducting trials with a fleet of five fuel-cell vehicles, with a further three hydrogen stations planned for London and there likely to be at least twelve stations countrywide by 2010.

For more than a decade, the car industry has seen hydrogen and fuel cells as the holy grail that will help fuel the future and while manufacturers have displayed dozens of fuel-cell concept cars in the past, these have been reluctant to put ideas into mass production without an infrastructure to support them.

Professor Kevin Kendall, Head of the research team, said, “It is absolutely necessary that we have the means to refuel our fleet of hydrogen-powered cars so that we can carry out our research project into the feasibility of hydrogen in a transport context.”

Air Products installed the fuel station and also recently announced that it is working with Transport for London (TfL) to build fuel stations for a fleet of 70 hydrogen-powered vehicles being introduced from next year.

TfL’s vehicles will be a mixture of buses, vans, cars and motorcycles that will be used by TfL staff, the police and the fire brigade, with London’s first hydrogen station set to open next year at a bus garage in East London.