|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.)