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The first postbuses with fuel cell drive operate in the Canton Aargau

PostBus is the first company in Switzerland to use fuel cell technology in public transport. After the timetable change in December 2011, PostBus routes in and around Brugg in the Canton Aargau will be serviced by fuel cell postbuses. Significant support is provided for this long-term test by various partners, such as the Canton Aargau, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy and the European Union.

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PostBus will test fuel cell drives during the next five years. It is the first public transport company in Switzerland to use hydrogen fuel. Starting on 11 December 2011, five fuel cell postbuses will gradually take up regular operation in Brugg.

Used in regular service

The extensive PostBus network in the greater Brugg area is an ideal testing ground in terms of topography and routes. The five fuel cell postbuses will be operated by the PostBus company Voegtlin-Meyer AG. The vehicles will be parked and fuelled at the company’s facilities in Brugg. The Canton Aargau will support the fuel cell postbus project as a partner for five years with a total contribution of CHF 1.5 million from the Swiss Lottery Fund.

First hydrogen fuelling station for buses

The first hydrogen fuelling station for buses in Switzerland will be built by PostBus in the next few months. Service is expected to start up in the spring of 2012. Initially, the station will only be available to the fuel cell postbuses. However, at some point in the future the station may also be used to fuel other vehicles, including research vehicles of the Paul Scherrer Institute, another project partner.

A 2,000 ton decrease in CO2

The long-term test is focusing on ecological sustainability. Most of the hydrogen will be produced at the fuel station in Brugg and will be fully generated by renewable energy sources, such as hydro-electric power, solar, wind energy, and biomass plants. Energy provider IBB in Brugg will supply the necessary power for the hydrogen production, which is CO2-neutral. Hydrogen-powered vehicles emit only steam, no exhaust gases, and the noise emissions are negligible. Moreover, during the braking process the postbuses recapture energy, which is stored and subsequently used to operate or to heat or cool the vehicle. PostBus anticipates that it will save at least 2,000 tons of CO2 during the five-year trial phase.

Hybrids in testing

The objective is to acquire sound know-how regarding the innovative fuel cell hybrid technology in long-term use and under everyday conditions over a five-year period. PostBus has been testing diesel hybrid drives for the past three years. With the expansion of these tests the leading bus company intends to explore alternative energy options in public transport. The Swiss Post corporate group is also pursuing these goals through its sustainability strategy.

Five Mercedes-Benz fuel cell hybrid buses

The five Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL hybrid buses with identical build will be fuelled exclusively with hydrogen, which is converted into electrical driving power. The prototype of this vehicle, a low-floor third-generation fuel cell hybrid model, was launched in 2009. Series production could start as of 2016.

Partners contributing to the investments

The project requires significant investments. An amount of approximately CHF 11 million alone has been budgeted to purchase the five postbuses. The project is made possible only by the financial support of public institutions and the cooperation of prominent partners from industry and research.

Partners of the fuel cell postbus project:

  • PostBus Switzerland Ltd
  • Swiss Post
  • European Union: Project CHIC (Aargau, Bozen, London, Milan, Oslo)
  • Canton Aargau
  • Swiss Federal Office of Energy
  • Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology)
  • Daimler Buses: EvoBus GmbH Mannheim and EvoBus (Schweiz) AG
  • Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen
  • IBB Holding AG, Brugg
  • Carbagas AG, Gümligen

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