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Hydrogen-fuel sweeper to clean Basel’s streets

hydro-street-cleanerA hydrogen-powered municipal street-cleaning vehicle — the first of its kind in the world — made its debut in Basel, Switzerland, last week.

The “Bucher CityCat H2” was developed by the Swiss materials science organisation Empa, the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), Bucher Schoerling, Proton Motor, BRUSA Elektronik AG und Messer Schweiz. The vehicle will be tested in everyday use over the next 18 months.

Fuel cells convert hydrogen directly into electrical current, which is then used to drive a vehicle’s electric motor. No pollutants are emitted via the exhaust, just water vapour produced by the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen in the fuel cell.

The Bucher CityCat H2’s developers say such vehicles can help significanly reduce air pollution in sensitive areas such as pedestrian precincts, railway station halls or even in enclosed structures such as exhibition halls.

“Our aim is to take fuel cell technology from the laboratory onto the street,” said project leader Christian Bach, who is Head of Empa’s Internal Combustion Engines Laboratory.

Because of their low power operational cycles, municipal vehicles are particularly well-suited for these kinds of drives and can be used to good effect in areas where the refueling infrastructure is limited.

“They therefore offer an important window of opportunity for introducing other hydrogen-powered vehicles onto the market,” Bach said.

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