Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

May 25

Hydrogen Powered Street Cleaner

Posted in Fuel Cells | Future Technology | Hydrogen Fuel

CityCat We are hearing about many inventions and discoveries in the alternative energy sector. But we don’t get to read about many ‘actual’ finished products doing their work in real world. What we know is many models being tested in laboratories. But here we are seeing Bucher CityCat H2, the world’s first municipal utility vehicle powered by fuel cells, made its debut last week in Basel, Switzerland. This street-cleaning CityCat will be doing her work on an eighteen months trial basis. It will be a matter of study that how this vehicle nicknamed as Bucher CityCat H2 be helpful in reducing air pollution than traditional diesel engines. Empa and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have, in collaboration with Bucher Schoerling, Proton Motor, BRUSA Elektronik AG und Messer Schweiz, developed a hydrogen powered municipal street cleaning vehicle that was unveiled to the public on 14th May 2009 in Basel.


CityCat is powered by fuel cells. Fuel cells convert hydrogen into electrical current that drives the vehicle’s electric motor. So we can see that no pollutants come out from its exhaust pipe. Only water vapor is being emitted that is a result of the reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. This vehicle not only reduces pollution, but CityCat’s energy consumption is half compared to diesel engines and it reduces CO2 emissions by 40%. Such vehicles are especially useful in sensitive areas for example pedestrian precincts, railway station halls or even in enclosed structures such as exhibition halls.

Project Leader Christian Bach, Head of Empa’s Internal Combustion Engines Laboratory says, “Our aim is to take fuel cell technology from the laboratory onto the street.” The project — also named as ‘hy.muve’ i.e. (hydrogen-driven municipal vehicle) – is also used as a research platform for socio-economic studies. It can throw light on acceptance of hydrogen technology, its market introduction and its cost effectiveness.

But the big question is still unanswered; it’s about the possibility of hydrogen power. Because most of the hydrogen power is generated from non-renewable natural gas. CityCat presents a great opportunity to test whether hydrogen power is actually cost-effective for municipal use. Even if it is found to be cost-effective, hydrogen technology has a long way to go before it is accepted in mainstream vehicles.

  • Bryan Roberts

    Have they come up with an innovative new way to make the fuel cells yet? We know hydrogen technology works; we just haven’t figured out how to efficiently build a fuel cell.

  • http://www.push.pickensplan.com/profile/wdanchance Dan Chance

    So you are saying that the CO2 emitted by the power plants that generate the electricity that produces the hydrogen is only 60% of what burning petroleum in a similar piece of street equipment would produce and that burning hydrogen doesn’t produce any CO2. Is that right? Ok. I’d like it to be better but reducing pollutants by almost half is pretty d… good.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alternative.energy.news Poerwatma Roesman

    A possible answer… to global oil dependency.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alternative.energy.news Raul Boino

    Awesome!!! Let there be many many more alternative to these polluting street-supposedly “cleaning”-cars! The world needs it and Mother Earth thanks us all:)

  • Arun

    This is a brilliant idea! I need to know what could be the pros and cons to establish Hydrogen powered small scale power plant at neighborhood level. At the same time it could be imperative to know how we could design, integrated urban system in parallel with the energy system already in existing. Increasing Urban Productivity through this small initiative at site level for the 50 Homes max would bring better synergy in economic terms as well… so could anybody interested to joining hands and help this research… cheers

  • russ

    Innovative? What is new or different – other than the vehicle being a garbage truck I guess. Of course it will work!

    This reduces CO2 by 40% when the H2 is made by reforming either naphtha or natural gas? Come on! If not from hydrocarbons then by use of electricity which is an even more energy intensive way to produce H2. The entire energy footprint must be considered – not just a select portion of it.

    If the H2 is generated using electricity only to be converted back to electricity – sounds like military intelligence!

    Until a practical, economic method of generating H2 from another method, preferably using renewables, is developed the whole thing is a pipe dream.

    Engineering & science are the answer to the H2 generation problem. Research has been underway for many years but the solution has not yet been found.

  • TAIWO

    I am glad to hear about this especially for a country Nigeria that the power system is not functioning at all, things like this will work here, the hydrogen powered small scale power plant for a small locality or environment.


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