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Plans for global hydrogen fuel cell bus trials unveiled

BOC Gases : 05 August, 2002  (Company News)
BOC is to work with BP to supply hydrogen for a fleet of fuel cell buses which will begin operational field trials serving fare-paying passengers around London in the UK from late 2003 and Perth in Australia from 2004.
The trials are part of a global project into hydrogen fuel cell technology aimed at developing an environmentally ‘clean’ public transport system.

The two-year London trial will see three DaimlerChrysler fuel cell buses operate in the city. The trial is funded by the European Union’s Clean Urban Transport for Europe programme, and involves DaimlerChrysler, BP and bus companies throughout Europe. Fuel cell powered buses will also go into service in ten cities, including six where BP will provide the fuelling infrastructure: Barcelona, Hamburg, Porto and Stuttgart, in addition to London and Perth.

The Perth trial will see three fuel cell buses operating on Transperth service routes by early 2004. Perth is the only city in the southern hemisphere to be involved in this trial of over 30 hydrogen fuel cell buses.

The hydrogen used in the trial will be produced by BP at the Kwinana refinery in Western Australia. BOC will purify and compress the hydrogen before delivering it to the Transperth bus depot. It will then be pumped into tanks on the roofs of the buses, which will use around 40 kilograms a day and have a range of up to 180 miles (300 kilometres).

Lauren Segal, BP’s general manager for hydrogen development, said: “The new buses will be quiet and clean because when hydrogen is used in fuel cell systems the only emission it produces is water.

“Another advantage of hydrogen is that it contains more specific energy than any other combustion fuel. It can also be produced from both hydrocarbon and ultimately renewable sources, such as wind, solar and waste.”

In the fuel cell hydrogen is passed through a membrane in a carbon ‘sandwich’ and is mixed with oxygen. This results in the production of electricity, which is used to power an electric motor.

BP is leading research into the development of a hydrogen fuelling infrastructure and is involved in a number of pilot programs around the world, including the California Fuel Cell Partnership in Sacramento.

Dick Grant, BOC’s chief executive, Process Gas Solutions, said: “Our success in winning the projects in London and Perth is based on our experience in dealing with regulatory authorities on hydrogen-related projects, our expertise in hydrogen production technologies, our first class project management skills and processes, and the 24hr technical and operational support that BOC can offer.

“Fuel cell technology is key to the long-term development of road transport and protection of the environment, and as such we are delighted to be associated with BP in these important trials. BP has consistently been a leader in the overall environmental area, as well as the development of cleaner alternative sources of energy, and we are looking forward to playing our part in this exciting project.”
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