Premiere: Filling station for fuel cell postbuses in operation

Press release dated 22.05.2012

PostBus Switzerland Ltd has launched the first Swiss hydrogen filling station in Brugg (Aargau). It supplies fuel for the vehicles that PostBus has been using since December 2011 to test fuel cell technology for public transport. The gaseous hydrogen is produced directly at the filling station. All the electricity needed to generate the hydrogen comes from renewable energy sources.

Since December 2011, five fuel cell powered postbuses have been operating on PostBus lines in and around Brugg (Canton Aargau). The vehicles are fuelled with gaseous hydrogen, which is then turned into electricity in the fuel cells. To refuel the vehicles, Carbagas AG in Brugg has built the first hydrogen filling station in Switzerland that is now being operated by PostBus Switzerland Ltd. As a result, approximately 60 per cent of the overall amount of hydrogen needed for the fuel cell project can be produced on site. The additional hydrogen needed is delivered.

Hydrogen to store electricity

The production process involves using an electrolyser to turn water and electricity into hydrogen. When electricity is passed through water, the water splits into its components, hydrogen and oxygen. Two high-pressure compressors pressurise the hydrogen to at least 410 bar. It is then stored in high-pressure accumulators. The hydrogen can eventually be used to fill the fuel cell postbuses fully automatically at the filling pump at a pressure of up to 350 bar. To power the vehicles the hydrogen in the fuel cells is turned back into electricity by combining it with oxygen in a controlled manner. The function of the hydrogen is to store electricity.

Electricity from renewable energy sources

Several different concepts exist for building hydrogen filling stations. For instance, it is also possible to use hydrogen obtained from natural gas. PostBus chose a solution, which reduces our dependence on fossil fuels. In addition, the chosen option is CO2 neutral. 100% of the hydrogen used to fill the fuel cell postbuses is obtained from renewable energy sources such as hydroelectricity, solar power, wind power and biomass energy. The electricity needed for the production process is supplied by the IBB Group in Brugg.

2,000 tons less CO2

No exhaust gases are emitted when driving with a fuel cell engine, just steam – and noise emission is extremely low. In addition, postbuses recover energy as they brake. This energy is stored and used later on when driving or for heating or air conditioning. PostBus expects to be able to save at least 2,000 tons of CO2 during the five-year trial phase.

Investment partners

The project is only possible as a result of financial support from public institutions and in cooperation with important partners from industry and research. Contributors to the project include:

  • PostBus Switzerland Ltd
  • Swiss Post
  • The European Union: CHIC Project (Aargau, Bolzano, Milan, Oslo)
  • Swisslos Fund of the Canton Aargau
  • Swiss Federal Office of Energy
  • Empa
  • Daimler Buses: EvoBus GmbH Mannheim and EvoBus (Switzerland) Ltd
  • Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen
  • IBB Holding Ltd, Brugg
  • Carbagas Ltd, Gümligen