Fuel cells produce low quantities of local emissions, if any, and are therefore one of the most promising alternatives to internal combustion engines as the main power source in future vehicles. It is likely that urban buses will be among the first commercial applications for fuel cells in vehicles. This is due to the fact that urban buses are highly visible for the public, they contribute significantly to air pollution in urban areas, they have small limitations in weight and volume and fuelling is handled via a centralised infrastructure.
Results and experiences from real life measurements of energy flows in a Scania Hybrid PEM Fuel Cell Concept Bus are presented in this paper. The tests consist of measurements during several standard duty cycles. The efficiency of the fuel cell system and of the complete vehicle are presented and discussed. The net efficiency of the fuel cell system was approximately 40% and the fuel consumption of the concept bus is between 42 and 48% lower compared to a standard Scania bus. Energy recovery by regenerative braking saves up 28% energy. Bus subsystems such as the pneumatic system for door opening, suspension and brakes, the hydraulic power steering, the 24 V grid, the water pump and the cooling fans consume approximately 7% of the energy in the fuel input or 17% of the net power output from the fuel cell system.
The bus was built by a number of companies in a project partly financed by the European Commission's Joule programme. The comprehensive testing is partly financed by the Swedish programme "Den Grona Bilen" (The Green Car). A 50 kW(el) fuel cell system is the power source and a high voltage battery pack works as an energy buffer and power booster. The fuel, compressed hydrogen, is stored in two high-pressure stainless steel vessels mounted on the roof of the bus. The bus has a series hybrid electric driveline with wheel hub motors with a maximum power of 100 kW.
Hybrid Fuel Cell Buses have a big potential, but there are still many issues to consider prior to full-scale commercialisation of the technology. These are related to durability, lifetime, costs, vehicle and system optimisation and subsystem design. A very important factor is to implement an automotive design policy in the design and construction of all components, both in the propulsion system as well as in the subsystems.
2003. Vol. 118, no 1-2, 349-357 p.