by Nino Marchetti:  It seems as if there’s a lot happening these days in the development and deployment of greener forms of public buses. There was the recent announcement of a quick charge electric bus pilot in Switzerland, as well as word the United Kingdom is putting serious capital towards funding hundreds of new low carbon buses. Meanwhile, in the US, Chinese manufacturing giant BYD is planning to build electric buses in California, while at the same time there are wireless charging pilots going on.

One particular low carbon bus type coming more and more into consideration are those powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Mercedes-Benz is one of those exploring this avenue, recently announcing the opening of a fuel cell filling station at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. The shuttles tied to this station will be two Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid fuel-cell buses, which will be linking students and employees between two different campus sections.

Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid fuel-cell buses (image via Daimler)

The technology in these fuel cell buses makes use of fuel-cell stacks, identical to those in the Mercedes-Benz B-Class FCELL with a fuel-cell drive system, and hybridization with lithium-ion batteries (27 kW/h). With all of this green tech under the hood, according to Daimler, the Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid reportedly

saves 50 percent more hydrogen than the predecessor generation, from which it benefits for the planned shuttle service. It has been possible to reduce the number of tanks compared to the earlier tried-and-tested fuel-cell buses from nine to seven reservoirs for a total of 35 kg of hydrogen. And where the FuelCELL Hybrid drive system is concerned, too, the engineers have focused on sustainability: As a power supplier the fuel cell is intelligently linked with several components. Both the battery and electric wheel hub drive and also the integral braking energy recuperation system are networked with one another.

The fuel-cell buses are said to have a range of over 300 kilometres (186 miles) and the filling time at the new filling station is eight to ten minutes. They join other initiatives where these types of buses are planned or already deployed, includingNorway and California.