UTC Power, Van Hool to Market Fuel Cell Buses in Europe

UTC Power, part of United Technologies Corp. announced it will team up with major Belgian bus manufacturer Van Hool to deliver a fuel cell-powered bus to DeLijn, a large bus fleet operator in Belgium. The bus will operate in Belgium for six months before being leased to other transit agencies in Europe. The UTC Power fuel cell system delivers up to 120 kW of power and is easily integrated into other heavy-duty hybrid vehicles.

By building a demonstration bus for the European market, Van Hool Managing Director Leopold Van Hool said that the two companies hope to advance the use of fuel cell hybrid-electric technology. “And we will do that without compromising any of the Van Hool bus features which have been embraced by major international customers — such as low floor throughout the bus, three wide doors, compliance to disabilities access regulations, a panoramic view including a rear window, air conditioning and all the other amenities of a modern bus,” he added. Major attributes of buses with these fuel cell systems include zero emissions, extremely quiet operation and a fuel efficiency that is more than twice as high as the standard diesel-powered transit bus. The product’s modular design also ensures ease of maintenance, which maximizes operating time. “The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive,” said AC Transit’s Rick Fernandez. “People can hardly believe how quiet these buses are, but when they further learn that these vehicles emit zero pollution, they’re extremely impressed.” AC Transit operates fuel cell buses in and around Oakland, California, in one of the more comprehensive hydrogen fuel cell demonstrations in the world. According to C. Mikel Oglesby, general manager of SunLine Transit Agency, “Our new hydrogen hybrid fuel cell bus has surpassed our expectations for a zero-emission transit bus. We have treated the bus as a commercial unit and put it in full service lines that operate up to 16 hours and over 250 miles per day. Our most pleasant surprise is the superb fuel economy that has been seen in the preliminary stages of operation.” Many industry leaders view city transit buses as an ideal entry point for fuel cell technology into the transportation sector. Urban transport emissions are a significant quality of life, affecting the respiratory health of a large segment of the population living in densely populated areas. Fuel cell transit buses have zero emissions, offering an immediate positive impact on street-level emissions. Also, an extensive network of hydrogen refueling stations is not required as transit buses generally refuel at central locations.
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