A secured hydrogen infrastructure is a prerequisite for the successful launch of environment- and resource-friendly fuel-cell technology in mobile use. The commissioning of the hydrogen filling station by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) on its Campus North site coincides with the start of operations for the shuttle service planned for students and employees, in the form of two Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid fuel-cell buses. Ulrich Piotrowski, Head of Sales Mercedes-Benz Buses Region West, was present at the inauguration of the filling station on 11 June and officially sent the shuttle vehicles into regular-service operation.
The KIT shuttle is a dedicated bus route for the students and employees at the KIT Campus South, the former University of Karlsruhe (TH) in the city of Karlsruhe, and the KIT Campus North, the former research centre in Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen. The shuttle service on the 15-kilometre route links the Campus North, Campus South and Campus East stops at 30-minute intervals without any intermediate stops – mobility and innovation.
The FuelCELL concept in the Citaro
Thanks to the improved fuel-cell components – the fuel-cell stacks are identical to those in the Mercedes-Benz B-Class FCELL with a fuel-cell drive system – and hybridisation with lithium-ion batteries (27 kW/h) the Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid 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 bus has a range of over 300 kilometres and the filling time at the new filling station is a mere eight to ten minutes. This means that the Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid can be used in just as uncomplicated a manner and as flexibly as contemporary diesel vehicles. In addition to this the drive system with the fuel cells is virtually maintenance-free and highly durable.
The award-winning Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid
With these wide-ranging technical advancements purely electric buses with fuel cells as their energy generators are coming a significant step closer to production maturity. The Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid facilitates permanent emission-free regular service between the campus sites and is thus an important element in future mobility. The use of synergies and the Daimler technology transfer from the passenger car to the bus render the fuel cell in the bus fit for the future.
It was this reasoning which last year won the Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid the ecology prize for local public transport in the fuel-cell bus category, the EBUS Award. The Forum for Transport and Logistics e. V. awarded the prize under the patronage of Dr Peter Ramsauer, the Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Development.