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Proton Motor Delivers Fuel-Cell Hybrid Midi-Bus

The fuel-cell hybrid Midi-bus for Barth.

Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH (PM) recently delivered one of its first fuel-cell hybrid buses to the City of Barth, Germany (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern).

Proton has delivered a few other fuel-cell buses, but each powertrain is as yet a one-off solution. The company, according to Dr. Joachim Kroemer, Head of Sales, will introduce a series-type fuel-cell bus next year.

Drawing of the six-stack power unit.

The Barth Midi-bus uses six PM 600 fuel-cell stacks to deliver 45 kW of rated power (maximum power of 60 kW) to twin traction motors. A NiMH battery pack provides energy storage for regenerative braking. Total drivetrain power is 80 kW. Two tanks store compressed hydrogen at 200 bar and hold a total of 320 liters of hydrogen per tank.

The fuel-cell bus carries 22 passengers and has a maximum speed of 70 kph (43.5 mph) and has a range of 180 km (112 miles).



Woo ha! And industry continues its struggle against the laws of physics.

Battery electric cars are $1 per gallon, where hydrogen would be $4/gallon... due to the losses inherent in each step of making hydrogen, shipping hydrogen, storing hydrogen, and finally turning hydrogen back into electricity in the fuel cell.

I guess these design pipelines just haven't caught up yet?

I thought of a good use for battery electric trucks the other night...

How about battery cars for UPS / DHL / FedEX.. especially in $5/gallon Europe.

By my calculations... those companies could save serious bucks on fuel costs. Wonder what is stopping them... perhaps oil needs to stay high long enough to justify the expense of buying battery trucks?



at this moment electric cars are expensive and have a short live.


Fuel cell vehicles are more expensive and have an even shorter life... go figure...


Matt, good idea.

One would think that UPS/Fedex might finance a small test fleet of BEV or PHEVs to study the savings on fuel AND get the added value of being a "BioGreenier" (green pioneer). A smart marketing department can turn such an investment into a PR goldmine - growing good will and subsequently business.

Fleet delivery vehicles can all be charged overnight from grid and PV sources. Excess PV capacity can be sold back to the grid, lowering overall energy cost.

Roger Pham

The laws of physics would favor a bus with less empty weight for maximum payload. A battery-powered bus would be too heavy to carry sufficient payload. Compressed H2 and fuelcells have much lower combined weight per unit of range and unit of payload than battery. Furthermore, a bus needs to run all day, thus very high duty-cycle that would make battery charging impractical due to the several hours required to charge a battery, while a H2 tank can be filled up in minutes. Constant use will overheat a battery and will wear it out faster, whereas a H2 tank can be refilled tens of thousands times and does not gets hot with constant usse. A Li-ion battery like in Laptop PC or cellphone will last but 300 charging cycles. More advanced Li batteries will last longer but no long-term data yet exist as to cost-effectiveness.

A personal BEV (car)however, would work just fine being used for daily commute and local driving, and does not need to have high payload/empty weight requirement.

Hydrogen is so easily produced locally by steam reforming of crude oil, natural gas or even coal or waste biomass, thus avoiding the cost of long distance transportation. Locally-produced Hydrogen can be made even cheaper than electricity from the same source of fuel.


All I know is that they better have a decent diesel electric hybrid RV (which was the first thing I thought of when I saw that bus) by the time I'm ready to retire in 15 years. These days I take all my trips on a motorcycle, but when i'm to old to ride I want an RV to replace them.


So to store a huge amount of energy from renewable sources (to deal with mismatches between supply and demand in real time at commercial scales) -- how exactly do batteries deal with that?


From the Yahoo Finanse blog:

"Ballard dropped from 155$ per share to 5$. Institutional Investors avoid Fuel Cell stocks like the plague, I wish ENER would drop the words fuel cell from the their web page. It's a stock killer."


"A battery-powered bus would be too heavy to carry sufficient payload."

Here is an example of a battery powered bus:


Uses old-skool Thundersky lithium-ion at only 100 Wh/kg but still manages 180 mile range.

That's more than enough for the typical daily city driving cycle.


I agree with Clett!

That little beastie does 70 km/hr for 180km. How much do the tanks, FC, NM battery etc weigh?

The tesla pack with 50kwh is good for 400kg and expected life is over 125 000 miles (200 000km) I believe.

I suspect that the duty cycle that the bus has would give the required 180km range. At 70km per hour it would only do that probably twice per day.

With dedicated charging the pack could be recharged in 1 hour.

BEV the bus dosen't sound so bad after all

Harvey D.

What is the defference in initial capital cost between a 80 KW fuel cell and a 80 KW lithium battery pack?

The fuel cell stack, with its huge fuel tanks, will not be lighter and will not capture regenerative braking power unless it is equipped with ultra capicitors or a battery pack. This will further increase the weight and total cost.

Both technologies may compete for specific applications but I prefer the all electric approach for cars and light trucks. We have a lot of clean Hydro power in our part of the country.

Rafael Seidl

For a rural bus service, a diesel hybrid powertrain (cp. GM Allison) will do just fine, especially if it comes with modern exhaust gas aftertreatment. Eastern Germany even produces plenty of biodiesel.

In promoting hydrogen-based transportation, a lot of decision-makers have underestimated the potential for incremental improvement that still exists for ICE-based technology - even after a century of building them. They also underestimated public acceptance of biofuel alternatives.

On-road vehicles powered by fuel cells still represent huge technological and cost challenges. The hoped-for breakthrough in environmental benefits (zero tailpipe emissions, improved well-to-wheels energy efficiency) no longer appear to be a quantum leap compared with state-of-the-art conventional technology.


I would rather see SOFC with CNG. You could do V2G and have a nice warm garage and bus in the morning, in those cold German winters.

Cheryl Ho

DME developments in CHina:
Since DME has an advantage of decomposition at lower temperature than methane and LPG, R&D for hydrogen source for fuel cell has been carried out.

If you would like to know more on the latest DME developments, join us at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:

DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
available and offer exciting potential of DME as a
chemical feedstock
By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
that DME/ Methanol can play a large energy supply role
By: International Finance Corporation

For more information: www.iceorganiser.com

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