Last week, hydrogen buses arrived in Ireland, South Korea, and plans are in the works for ten additional buses to roll out in the Netherlands.
A hydrogen fuel cell electric bus is powered by two of the most common basic components on Earth, oxygen and hydrogen. To generate energy, heat, and water, a fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen.
Compared to batteries, fuel cells are somewhat similar. Both transform the energy produced by a chemical reaction into electric power that is available. The fuel cell offers an advantage, but as long as fuel (hydrogen) is produced, it will continue to generate electricity. Also, it provides extra electrical power any time the coach operator steps on the brakes to help the bus accelerate and climb steep hills.
Fuel cells are emission-free hybrid units. When using hydrogen fuel cells, a bus emits only vapor. Through this technology the bus reduces impact on global warming, less global pollution, and contributes to quieter communities.
In April, the Dublin-based Hydrogen Council declared that trials will begin of a hydrogen-powered bus fleet.
The trial was launched by Hydrogen Mobility Ireland, which involved stakeholders from both the transport industry itself as well as academics. The hydrogen buses ran on various routes by CIÉ Company, bus companies Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus, as well as by Dublin City University and Dublin Airport.
The Irish government has said that the findings of the trial will be used to decide which fuels and technologies to move the public transport fleet to.
The hydrogen-powered buses emit only water from the hydro cap exhaust. A hydrogen bus costs twice as much as a diesel counterpart. They also intend to invest €16m in new electric buses which will replace Ulsterbus routes. The Minister of Transportation spoke of the development of an optimistic vision for Low Emission Public Transportation. Translink's aim is to make all buses operated on fully zero-emissions technology by 2040.
Meanwhile, Hydrogen-powered buses are being tested on the roads in downtown Seoul, South Korea. 370 Buses will be added to the regular intracity routes. Seoul's buses can run all day on a single fill-up. The hydrogen-powered bus is one of the initiatives in the Seoul-type Green New Contract.
Enhanced strategic alliances like these aim to accelerate the spread of hydrogen mobility. TME is already supplying the Toyota fuel cell technology to CaetanoBus in Portugal and integrating it into their first hydrogen bus. Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB), the main public transport operator in Barcelona's metropolitan area, is acquiring eight 12m hydrogen vehicles.
In Emmen, The Netherlands, Ballard Power Systems will power ten more Van Hool A330 fuel cell electric buses to be launched in 2022. Shell is to be contracted to build and run a ten-megawatt hydrogen station. Together, both of the fuel cell buses use 60-90 tons of green hydrogen per year. The modules are slated to be published in 2021.