• Nov 17th 2009 at 8:53AM
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Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid - click above for high-res image gallery

Daimler this week unveiled the first of its new generation Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid transit buses. Thirty of these new buses will be going into service in 2010 with the first 10 going to Hamburg Germany where previous-generation fuel cell buses have already been in service for several years. The new buses use the latest iteration of Daimler's fuel cell drive system which consists of a modular stack design. By building the fuel cell stack in modules, it can be scaled for different applications with the same hardware used in the bus and the new series of B-class F-Cell cars. Twenty of the fuel cell B-Classes will also be going to Hamburg for use by the transit company.

The combination of the new stack design and a hybrid configuration using lithium ion batteries allows the fuel cells to operate at a more constant output with the batteries taking care of the transient acceleration needs. The result is that fuel consumption is cut in half compared to the older buses and the new buses have a range of 155 miles. The bus deployment is part of the Clean Energy Partnership which will see four new public hydrogen filling stations constructed in Hamburg.

  • Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid im Fahrbetrieb. Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid in operation.
  • Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid im Hamburger Hafen. Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid at Hamburg Harbour.

[Source: Daimler]

press release

New fuel cell bus will be in service in Hamburg next year

• New generation with approx. 50 percent lower fuel consumption
• 10 new fuel cell buses for "Hamburger Hochbahn"
Stuttgart / Hamburg, 16th November 2009 – The new Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid made its first appearance in its future operating location of Hamburg today. The exceptional feature of this latest-generation fuel cell hybrid bus is its outstanding environmental compatibility. The bus emits absolutely no pollutants while in motion, and it's also virtually silent, making it ideal for use in highly congested inner cities and metropolitan areas. From next year, no less than ten of the 30 vehicles that Daimler Buses is producing for European transport operators are destined for the Hamburg transport authority. In addition, Hamburger Hochbahn will take delivery of 20 Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL cars starting 2010, which are also equipped with a fuel cell drive system.

The Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid is taking part in large-scale fleet trials which are due to take place in Hamburg and other European cities. This is a follow-up to the European Union's successful CUTE and HyFLEET:CUTE projects, which were carried out from 2003 to 2009. In the HyFLEET:CUTE project, a total of 36 Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses equipped with the second-generation fuel cell drive system have performed outstandingly for 12 public transport agencies on three continents, among them Hamburger Hochbahn AG. In more than 140,000 hours of operation, during which they covered a total of more than 2.2 million gererated kilometres, these environmentally compatible Mercedes-Benz buses have impressively demonstrated their ability to function reliably under operating conditions.

Intelligent use of synergies in the passenger car and commercial vehicle sectors

"The new Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid clearly demonstrates that electric mobility is already feasible today also with commercial vehicles", says Hartmut Schick, head of Daimler Buses. "Besides, synergy potentials with our Mercedes-Benz passenger car development and Daimler research can be optimally used in particular with the fuel cell drive system."

For the Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid and the B-Class F-CELL, Mercedes-Benz successfully follows the cost-effective principle of using common parts. Components such as fuel cell stacks can be used as modules for both cars and commercial vehicles, for example: the new Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid bus is e.g. powered by two fuel cell systems of the same type used in the B-Class F-CELL. Thanks to improved fuel cell components and hybridisation with lithium-ion batteries, the Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid consumes almost 50 percent less hydrogen compared to the preceding generation. The operating range of the fuel cell bus is around 250 kilometers. The fuel cell drive system is also practically maintenance-free, and has a long operating life.

The global initiative "Shaping Future Transportation" consolidates all the activities for sustainable mobility in the commercial vehicles sector at Daimler AG. The aim of this initiative is to use clean, efficient drive systems along with alternative fuels to realize zero-emission commercial vehicles for tomorrow's transportation needs. "Shaping Future Transportation" means conserving resources and reducing emissions of all kinds, while ensuring the highest possible level of traffic safety. The Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid, developed with the support of the European Union, plays a major role in this.

Prof. Kohler, Vice President e-drive & Future Mobility at Daimler AG: "Our intensive research and development conducted since 1994 has enabled us to bring the fuel cell to series production maturity. This enables us to entrust two fully practical electric vehicles with battery-electric and fuel cell drive systems to our customers – the smart fortwo electric drive and the B-Class F-CELL. The main objective now is to achieve a competitive cost level in comparison with conventionally powered vehicles and to create a full infrastructure of electric and hydrogen filling stations in cooperation with energy providers and the petroleum industry."

Large-scale project using fuel cell vehicles

In this large-scale project for the use of fuel cell technology in Hamburg, Daimler is cooperating with the city council as well as with Shell, Total und Vattenfall Europe. The aim is to accelerate the creation of an emission-free vehicle fleet and establish an appropriate infrastructure of hydrogen filling stations. The project is part of the Clean Energy Partnership in Hamburg and Berlin. It is being supported by the federal German government as part of the National Innovation Program for hydrogen and fuel cell technology (NIP).

As part of this cooperation, four public filling stations with hydrogen pumps are to be constructed in Hamburg, enabling fuel cell vehicles to be refuelled within minutes. Thanks to the high hydrogen pressure of 700 bar, their operating range will then exceed 400 kilometers. This large operating range will make locally emission-free fuel cell vehicles fully suited to long-distance operations.

Daimler AG

Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler AG, with its businesses Mercedes-Benz Cars, Daimler Trucks, Daimler Financial Services, Mercedes-Benz Vans and Daimler Buses, is a globally leading producer of premium passenger cars and is the global market leader for heavy- and medium-duty trucks and buses. The Daimler Financial Services division has a broad offering of financial services, including vehicle financing, leasing, insurance and fleet management. Daimler sells its products in nearly every country and has production facilities on five continents. Founders, Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz, continued to make automotive history following their invention of the automobile in 1886. As an automotive pioneer, Daimler and its employees willingly accept an obligation to act responsibly towards society and the environment and to shape the future of safe and sustainable mobility with groundbreaking technologies and high-quality products. The current brand portfolio includes the world's most valuable automobile brand, Mercedes-Benz, as well as smart, AMG, Maybach, Freightliner, Western Star, Mitsubishi Fuso, Setra, Orion and Thomas Built Buses. The company is listed on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt, New York and Stuttgart (stock exchange abbreviation DAI). In 2008, the Group sold 2.1 million vehicles and employed a workforce of over 270,000 people; revenue totalled €95.9 billion and EBIT amounted to €2.7 billion. Daimler is an automotive Group with a commitment to excellence, and aims to achieve sustainable growth and industry-leading profitability.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Great engineering feats, no doubt.

      Cutting consumption in half reduced it to... what? Give me a number compared to a diesel bus.

      But still... 700 BAR=10,000 PSI. No way I would ride that bus.
        • 5 Years Ago
        10,000 PSI, who cares? LNG busses don't spontaneously combust, this is no different. You can make a 10,000 PSI sphere that is quite sturdy and reliable (just not light). I think your concerns are overblown.
        • 5 Years Ago

        I sure hope you don't put sugar on your breakfast cereal....


        Maybe you missed the article about the Toxco (lithium battery recycler) explosion? Each solution to powering a vehicle comes with a negative downside that must be handled with great caution. No transportation solution is 100% safe.

        The tanks for storing H2 for transportation have been certified by the German TUV, as well as many other international standards agencies. Stop trying to cause panic.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Who cares compared to a diesel bus? A fuel cell bus wins on:

        Particulate matter emissions

        And that is what I care about in an urban environment. A silent and clean bus is worth paying more for a fare. Does it cost more? Of course it does, this is the second release of a new technology why would you expect it to cost about the same amount?
        • 5 Years Ago
        @letstakeawalk. If my neighbor got a H2 car I would seriously consider moving. A ConAgra plant can also blow up? OK, but that's not next to my house, or on my way to work. You're trying to make me feel better about H2 by saying other things can blow up too. I can't tell you how to win people over to H2, but that strategy is probably not going to be very successful.

        Everywhere you go, there are gas stations. According to the 2006 US Census, there are 116,855 gas stations. Now imagine those are all H2 filling stations, or at least a lot of them. What will happen when those H2 filling stations are 20 (or 50) years old and run down? That happens with the liquid fuel infrastructure so I see no reason why it wouldn't with H2. Pretty much the worst that happens with liquid fuel is that ground water is contaminated.

        Infrastructure needed to fill up SCUBA tanks is a more realistic example than a very limited infrastructure needed for a poster project of city buses that are all filled up at one location. Have you seen the setup for filling a SCUBA tank? It usually involves sticking the tank in a tub of water made out of thick concrete. They do it because those tanks blow up every now and then, and that's only dealing with up to 4000 PSI. When the tanks go, it's really impressive - and that's just compressed air, no combustion.

        No transportation is "safe", that's true, but H2 seems like asking for trouble. Remember, this is only one of the problems with H2. All I'm saying is that surely there is a liquid alternative to H2 that comes with most upsides, but does not come with the "boom".
        • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Of course a bus is a special use and a good one, but hardly pointing the way to the future for an affordable automobile. Interesting article this morning in the Washington Post:


      Their point being that hydrogen fuel cells can be done, but at the cost and decades of effort why bother when there better alternatives now.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "No, there aren't. BEV are not an alternative at all."

        First of all, "BEV are not an alternative at all." is a bit of an extreme statement that is not worth bothering to argue with except to say it's wrong. But there are other alternatives besides BEVs that are better than hydrogen.
        • 5 Years Ago
        From that article:

        "But why would you want to store energy in the form of hydrogen and then use that hydrogen to produce electricity for a motor, when electrical energy is already waiting to be sucked out of sockets all over America and stored in auto batteries -- all without a middleman? "

        He calls hydrogen a middle man but doesnt call a $25,000 battery a middleman?

        (And thats a small battery ... a pickup truck would surely need at least a $75,000 battery)

        Bottom line - the bigger the vehicle, the more ridiculous a BEV becomes.

        "Their point being that hydrogen fuel cells can be done, but at the cost and decades of effort why bother when there better alternatives now."

        No, there aren't. BEV are not an alternative at all. They do not satisfy all of our transportation needs. In fact, not even 30% of them. Not at any price.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "The result is that fuel consumption is cut in half compared to the older buses and the new buses have a range of 155 miles."


      • 5 Years Ago
      Noe the war between fuelcells and li-ion batteries is over. They use a combination of both for 50% less hydrogen then 2-3 years ago.
      • 5 Years Ago
      These buses are interesting. Though there maybe be "better" alternatives, something like a large bus helps balance out the million (?) dollar fuel cell cost.

      Where can you get technical info on these buses?

      I'd like to know:
      the power output of the fuel cell stack
      expected lifetime of the stack
      the capacity of the battery in kWh.
      motor power and torque
      info on their source for hydrogen
      • 5 Years Ago
      Isn't that a bit deceptive to compare BEV using electricity from coal vs fuel cells using hydrogen from reformed gas.

      I'm willing to give hydrogen fuel cell vehicles a chance. I just can't see a big market for them without astronomical government assistance.

      Careful what you wish for, you might get it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "In any event, no one, except you Dave, claims that BEVs (in the current form anyway) are the answer to all transportation needs."

      Wrong. There are lots of people who have been fooled into believing that BEVs are the answer to all transportation needs. The truth, of course, is that current BEVs are only capable of replacing vehicles which already get great mpg and which are driven very few miles.

      The FCV prices you quote are for prototypes. You know absolutely nothing about the price of mass produced fuel cells. Stop pretending to know more than the engineers at Toyota, Mercedes, Honda, GM, etc.

      As for efficiency - You are giving BEVs much more credit than they deserve.

      Coal power plants are on average ~31% efficient. Natural gas plants are on average ~55% efficient. The grid is ~95% efficient and the BEV is ~90% efficient. So, overall efficiency from natural gas to wheels is ~47%. And, on coal, its ~26%.

      Steam reformation of natural gas is ~65% efficient and fuel cells are ~50% efficient. So overall efficiency is about 32%.

      (But, for large vehicles, the FCV weighs half as much as a BEV with the same payload)
      • 5 Years Ago
      The modular nature of these fuel cells will help to bring overall costs down. Congrats to Daimler for bringing production fuel cells closer to the consumer.
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