Hydrogen Fuel Cell Street Sweeper Trial Moves from St Gallen to Bern

15 Oct 2012


A hydrogen fuel cell street sweeper has moved to Bern for three months of testing, following tests in everyday use on the streets of Basel and St Gallen.

Although the project experienced initial difficulties in Basel, these have now been mostly resolved and the sweeper performed well in hilly St Gallen. Drivers found the performance of the vehicle comparable to conventional diesel-fuelled sweepers.

The project team hopes to take testing to the next level in Bern, for example using the fuel cell sweeper on cobblestones and at low temperatures. In addition to gaining technical knowledge, the project aims to demonstrate the practical use of hydrogen as a fuel and dispel concerns around the use of the new technology.

A typical street sweeper has a 55 kW diesel engine and a hydrostatic drive; the test sweeper replaces this with an electric drive and a 16 kW fuel cell system, combined with 12 kWh battery storage and 7.5 kg of hydrogen stored at 350 bar. This is sufficient for a full day of operation without refuelling. Consumption of 5 to 5.5 litres per hour of diesel is replaced by consumption of 0.3 to 0.6 kg of hydrogen per hour. Energy consumption per shift drops from 180 to 200 MJ for diesel to 40 to 80 MJ. Even if the hydrogen is produced from natural gas, this increased energy efficiency means ‘well-to-wheel’ carbon dioxide emissions are still considerably reduced.

Street sweepers are put to heavy duty use for around seven hours every day and their energy consumption (and emissions) are proportionally much higher than that of passenger vehicles. To compound this, they are often used in noise- and emission-sensitive areas such as pedestrian zones or shopping areas. Because they only operate locally providing hydrogen refuelling is less of a problem, and a single, small station at the depot would be all that is needed. The project envisions the hydrogen ultimately being produced by electrolysis using locally generated renewable electricity.

Source (in German): soaktuell.ch


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