WORLD-FIRST trials of a double-decker bus powered by hydrogen have taken place.

Wrightbus trialled its double decker prototype in Crawley on Wednesday in a major step forward in efforts to tackle climate change.

Hydrogen fuel generates no carbon dioxide emissions when burnt, instead producing water.

Wrightbus owner Jo Bamford hopes to bring the buses to Brighton once trials are successful.

Transport for London has already ordered 20 of them

“We’re seeing what these buses can do,” Mr Bamford said.

“We’re in a world of zero emissions. There are two solutions for buses: batteries and hydrogen.

“With batteries, buses will have to lug around 3.5-tonne batteries and it takes about four and a half or five hours to charge.

“In one charge they can only go 60 per cent the distance of a diesel bus.

“But hydrogen-powered buses will go the same distance as diesel-powered buses.

“It takes seven minutes to refuel and it’s 100 per cent emissions-free.

“If it goes well the bus companies will go ‘this is the solution we’ve been looking for’.

“Hopefully we can get some in Brighton.”

Mr Bamford plans to fuel the buses with a hydrogen bottling plant in Kent.

Pure hydrogen does not occur naturally on Earth.

So it is produced by running a current through water, separating it into hydrogen and oxygen.

The pure hydrogen is then bottled and burnt by buses, producing energy and water with no carbon emissions.

Mr Bamford said his firm’s hydrogen-powered double decker is a “Great British solution”.

“Instead of lugging around a large battery, you can use a gas lighter than air,” he said.

Brighton and Hove Buses introduced a fleet of hybrid electric buses last year.

The bright blue double deckers automatically switch to a zero-emissions mode whenever they enter the city’s “ultra low emissions zone” between Castle Square and Palmeira Square.

The 30 bright blue double deckers began serving their routes in October.

The new models are called Enviro400ERs and run on batteries topped up by

the brakes, as well as a generator.

“These new buses are an important part of our commitment to making Brighton and Hove a clean air city with zero emissions by 2030,” managing director Martin Harris said at the time.

“Our aim is to help improve air quality for everybody.”