NAA Member News: NanoSUN – Pioneer HRS to Refuel Brühl’s Solaris Hydrogen City Buses
Six brand new Solaris Urbino 12 hydrogen buses go into regular service with Germany’s first mobile hydrogen filling station, delivered by Westfalen Group, now in continuous operation and ready for refuelling.
As the icing on the cake, the new buses were given distinctive, original, attention-grabbing Brühl designs.
Brühl was one of the pioneers who, together with RVK and Hürther Stadtwerke, took the first big step back in 2011 – with hydrogen as an alternative drive for public transport. At that time, two buses of the prototype Phileas (APTS) were put into operation and they continued to commit themselves to the alternative drive with hydrogen. Three hydrogen-powered vehicles have been in use in Brühl city traffic since October 2021.
The decision to switch city traffic to hydrogen was made on 16 March 2022 in Brühl. Since then, many strings have been pulled and numerous sub-projects have been implemented. With the commissioning of the six new Solaris vehicles, the hydrogen landscape in the metropolitan area around Cologne will be enriched by another large piece of the puzzle.
Hydrogen – the alternative drive in public transport
The deployment of the six new Solaris Urbino 12 hydrogen buses will change things for Brühl. As of today, the city bus routes will be almost entirely driven by hydrogen-powered fuel cell buses, making public city transport almost completely emission-free. Diesel buses are only used during the so-called “peak hours”, i.e. the rush hours during morning school transport.
Hydrogen-powered fuel-cell hybrid buses score in many respects. With the exception of water vapour, they cause no local emissions. In addition to the greatly reduced noise emissions, this means, among other things, no emissions of NOx (collective term for gaseous oxides of nitrogen), CO2 (carbon dioxide) and soot particles.
With just under 390,000 km a year, which in Brühl are now driven exclusively with hydrogen, 393 tons of CO2 and 0.55 tons of NOx are avoided compared to the Euro 6 diesel bus (tank to wheel).
The 12-metre-long Solaris vehicles newly integrated into the fleet have a range comparable to the diesel buses currently in use. They can be refuelled just as quickly as diesel buses and therefore do not require any adjustments for operational processes.
The mobile gas station
The filling station was developed in cooperation between Westfalen Group and the Lancaster-based company NanoSUN. It is a container-based fast-fill solution for refuelling at 350 bar. Filling a fuel cell bus with the mobile hydrogen filling station takes less than 20 minutes. Since the filling station container can deliver up to 230 kg of hydrogen from several cylinders, fuel cell buses in Turnus can be fully refuelled. The system is particularly robust because there are no components that are prone to failure. If a container is empty, it is refilled or replaced with a full container.
The location of the gas station on the premises of the ironworks was selected after short, successful negotiations since the parking lot there offers ideal and currently unused space for the installation of the mobile gas station.
The Westfalen Group from Münster operates around 260 filling stations in North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony, among other places, and has been supplying its customers with gaseous and liquid products for 100 years.
The design of the buses
The Brühler Stadtwerke ensure the quality of life in their city and region. This is now optically fresh and emotionally staged and can now be seen on the streets of the castle town. The six new hydrogen buses are eye-catchers for the municipal utility brands StadtbusBrühl and BrühlMobil, BrühlStrom, BrühlGas, BrühlWasser, BrühlWärme and KarlsBad.
Promotion of vehicles
The procurement of the Brühl buses was made possible as part of a comprehensive funding commitment from the Federal Ministry for Digital Affairs and Transport to the RVK. The funding guideline is coordinated by NOW GmbH and implemented by the project management agency Jülich (PtJ). The logos of the facilities are therefore located in the roof ring of the buses.
RVK, with its administrative headquarters in Cologne, renders its services in the area around Cologne and Bonn, including since 1998 for Stadtwerke Brühl GmbH, which is a shareholder of RVK. With its authorities and shareholders, RVK is one of the hydrogen-pioneers in Europe.
Dr Marcel Frank, Managing Director of Regionalverkehr Köln GmbH:
“Thanks to the courageous support of our shareholders, we have now been making a decisive contribution to a climate-friendly transformation of public transport for 12 years. Without funding projects at federal, state and EU level, the extremely fast-growing hydrogen landscape would not have been conceivable. And Brühl is now completely part of it.”
Dr Nicolas Dohn, Head of Hydrogen of Westfalen Group:
“We at Westfalen are convinced of the great potential of hydrogen as an energy source. In addition to its use in industrial processes, we also see hydrogen as an essential part of the mobility revolution, especially as an alternative drive energy in heavy goods traffic. The mobile hydrogen filling station, as we use it in Brühl, is characterized above all by its flexibility which enables it to be used as needed and can therefore decisively support the market ramp-up of hydrogen in mobility.”