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European Fuel-Cell Bus Projects Extended by One Year

CUTE bus on parade in London.

The European fuel-cell bus projects CUTE (Clean Urban Transport for Europe) and ECTOS (Ecological City Transport System) will be continued in combination for an additional year.

Seven of the original ten cities operating Mercedes-Benz Citaro fuel-cell buses in regular service—Amsterdam, Barcelona, Hamburg, London, Luxembourg, Madrid and Reykjavik—have decided to continue the project with a total of 27 buses through the end of 2006.

In addition to the operation of the fuel-cell bus fleet, the extension of the contract also involves the development and demonstration of a test vehicle for the next-generation of fuel-cell buses.

The CUTE project was launched at the end of 2001 by DaimlerChrysler, the European cities of Amsterdam, Barcelona, Hamburg, London, Luxembourg, Madrid, Porto, Stockholm and Stuttgart, and several infrastructure companies.

Three more Mercedes-Benz Citaro fuel-cell buses have been operating in Reykjavik as part of the ECTOS project, which is also funded by the EU. In addition, the public transport systems of Beijing, China, and Perth, Australia, now also include three fuel cell buses each. (Earlier post.) By the end of December 2005, these 36 buses had been in operation for more than 75,000 hours and covered almost 1.1 million kilometers in all.

The test operations under everyday conditions have provided the developers with important information that will help them further increase the lifespan of the drive system, and especially of the fuel cell stacks. The current generation of fuel cell stacks has been in operation for more than 2,000 hours without any loss of performance—much longer than the engineers had expected.

The Citaro fuel-cell buses use two Ballard PEM modules in series that produce more than 250 kW of power. Nine roof-mounted tanks store 40–42 kg of hydrogen at 350 bar. The bus has a top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph). Fuel consumption, at least in the London Bus trial, averages about 0.25 kg/kilometer, giving the bus a range of about 165 km (about 100 miles).

Furthermore, the operation of the fuel-cell buses is helping to build up the hydrogen infrastructure that is necessary for the buses’ daily operation.

The extension is associated with the HyFLEET:CUTE hydrogen project, and it is being sponsored by the European Commission as part of its Sixth Framework Program on research. The international demonstration project concerning local public transportation in Europe involves the cooperation of 31 partners from politics, industry and science to promote the development of hydrogen technology.

The aim of the four-year project is to identify forward-looking drive concepts for city buses as well as technologies and processes for the production and distribution of hydrogen.

We’re happy that our customers will be operating the buses for 12 more months. That will consolidate and verify the operating data we’ve gathered over the past two years.

—Wolfgang Diez, DaimlerChrysler global bus operations

The Mayor of London recently announced plans to introduce 70 more hydrogen vehicles—including fuel-cell buses—to London by 2010 and is asking the transport industry to get ready to deliver the necessary vehicles and refueling technology. (Earlier post.)



Willi Vanilli


You claim in your post...

"In addition to the operation of the fuel-cell bus fleet, the extension of the contract also involves the development and demonstration of a test vehicle for the next-generation of fuel-cell buses."

This was not in the official Ballard SEC 6-K report. What is your source of this information?


DaimlerChrysler press release, access to which may require registration.

"In addition to the operation of the fuel cell bus fleet, the extension of the contract also involves the development and demonstration of a test vehicle for fuel cell buses of the next generation."

Why H2?

The H2A costing models and case studies have been updated to version 1.0.10. These models have tremendous industry wide input and a very significant and stringent peer review process.

The new case studies can be found here:

Current Forecourt Hydrogen Production from Grid Electrolysis (1,500 kg/day) version 1.0.10
= $5.88/kg

Current Forecourt Hydrogen Production from Natural Gas (1,500 kg/day) version 1.0.10
= $3.49/kg

I'll utilize the forecourt models because it represents the easiest and most straight forward deployment model for a hydrogen economy. It would allow for easy deployment of the "lighthouse" approach proposed by Shell Hydrogen without having to make huge capital outlays. Each new H2 station can be setup individually utilizing existing natural gas and electricity capabilities without any need to create large centralized plants, new underground piping, or long distance transportation scenarios for hydrogen. If large capital investments are made in this infrastructure for centralized production then even better economics can come into play in the long run, but better economics are not necessary...they are just a bonus.

If we utilize Honda's best selling full size sedan, the Honda Accord, and Honda's newest innovative full size fuel cell sedan, the Honda FCX Concept, we can find out some pretty interesting things. The 2 vehicles have very similar dimensions...

Honda Accord V6
- 191.1 L / 57.3 H / 71.6 W
Honda FCX Concept
- 185.8 L / 56.3 H / 73.6 W

The 2 vehicles have very similar ranges...
Honda Accord V6
- 354 miles
Honda FCX Concept
- 350 miles

The 2 vehicles both have some pretty decent power on tap...
Honda Accord V6
- 244 hp
Honda FCX Concept
- 174 hp

The Honda FCX Concept does have less (but still adequate) horsepower, but that will be somewhat offset by quicker off the line acceleration from the near instantaneous peak torque available through the electric drive system versus the internal combustion engine which requires 5000 rpm before reaching peak torque. Additionally the low center of gravity on the Honda FCX Concept and the 4 wheel drive system with individually adjustable in wheel rear motors will provide maximum agility in handling. If this is not enough, then one can factor in the emission free nature of the Honda FCX Concept, the potential convenience of home refueling, the superior cabin volume, and the fact you can provide backup power for a small neighborhood.

Now lets utilize these vehicles and compare the fuel costs.

Fuel Price.............Tank Capacity..........Cost For 350(4) miles

$1.02/gallon..........17.1 gallons..............$17.44
$1.72/gallon..........17.1 gallons..............$29.41
$2.40/gallon..........17.1 gallons..............$41.04
$3.00/gallon..........17.1 gallons..............$51.30

The price of gas must be $1.02/gallon to be price competitive with hydrogen from H2A forecourt reformed natural gas.

The price of gas must be $1.72/gallon to be price competitive with hydrogen from H2A forecourt electrolysis.

With today's gas prices of $2.40 per gallon, gasoline is 135% more expensive than hydrogen from reformed natural gas and 40% more expensive than hydrogen from electrolysis.

Source for Honda FCX Concept tank size, range, and other information:

Source for Honda Accord V6 tank size and range:

tom deplume

If you simply used those kwhs to charge batteries the savings would be even more.

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