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.
BMW has announced the start of production of the new BMW Hydrogen 7, the world’s first hydrogen-powered luxury saloon car. Destined to make its first public appearance on 28 November at the Los Angeles Motor Show, the Hydrogen 7 will be built in limited numbers and offered to selected users in 2007. The BMW Hydrogen 7 is based on the existing 7 Series and comes equipped with an internal combustion engine capable of running on liquid hydrogen or petrol. In hydrogen mode the car emits nothing more than water vapor. Powered by a 260hp 12-cylinder engine, the Hydrogen 7 accelerates from zero to 62mph in 9.5 seconds before going on to an electronically limited 143mph top speed.
YouTube: BMW Hydrogen 7
With its unique dual power engine, the driver of a Hydrogen 7 can switch quickly and conveniently from hydrogen to conventional petrol power at the press of a steering wheel-mounted button. The dual power technology means the car has a cruising range in excess of 125 miles in the hydrogen mode with a further 300 miles under petrol power. To make this possible the BMW Hydrogen 7 comes with a conventional 74-litre petrol tank and an additional hydrogen fuel tank holding up to 8kgs of liquid hydrogen. Such flexibility means the driver of a BMW Hydrogen 7 is able to use the vehicle at all times, even when the nearest hydrogen filling station is out of range.
The driver can switch between the two without any effect on driving behavior or performance. The car always gives priority to the use of hydrogen but, should this run out; it automatically switches to petrol power.
For undiluted driver enjoyment, engine power and torque in the Hydrogen 7 Unlike many previous hydrogen concept cars showcased by rival manufacturers the BMW Hydrogen 7 heralds a milestone in the history of the car. It is a full production ready vehicle, which has met all the stringent processes and final sign-off criteria that every current BMW model undergoes. A total of 100 BMW Hydrogen 7s will be built in 2007. Details on pricing and the destinations of the 100 cars will be announced at a later date.
The BMW Group has been committed to hydrogen technology as a means of reducing car emissions, in particular CO2 emissions, for over 20 years. When running in the hydrogen mode, the BMW Hydrogen 7 essentially emits nothing but water vapor. And, unlike fossil fuels and traditional petrol, hydrogen is available in virtually infinite supply when renewable energies such as solar, wind and wave power are used to produce the liquid hydrogen. Stored in a hi-tech tank which keeps the fuel at a pressure of 3-5 bar and a consistent temperature of -250C, liquid hydrogen offers significant advantages in energy density compared to other possible alternative fuel sources to enhance the cruising range of the car.
BMW continues to develop ultra efficient, yet very dynamic petrol engines that significantly reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Together with clean performance diesel cars and the technologically advanced hybrid systems currently under development, the BMW Group has a clear strategy for sustainable mobility with hydrogen as the ultimate goal.
September 30th, 2006
Forget ethanol or biodiesel. The next big thing in automotive fuel may very well be hydrogen. Automakers rapidly are closing in on making hydrogen fuel cell vehicles an everyday fact of life, with several test models set to debut over the next few years. Hydrogen fuel cells to power vehicles is desirable, experts say, because hydrogen is a renewable fuel that can be used to create electricity to run cars. A chemical reaction between oxygen and hydrogen produces the electric power, and when pure hydrogen is used, the only emission from the tailpipe is harmless water vapor.