World premiere: first trambus to run on hydrogen

21/06/2019

Lier-based bus manufacturer Van Hool will supply eight articulated trambuses of 18 metres in length that run on hydrogen for the French city of Pau in late 2019. These are the first in the world to be powered by hydrogen technology.

Trambuses are true buses in reality, although they resemble a tram. Their length (18 or 24 metres), for example, gives them a greater capacity than classical buses. Furthermore, they are partially electric, which makes them more environmentally friendly. They are equipped with a trolley system, i.e. with electric cables as with a normal tram. However, they do not run on tracks, making it easier and more flexible to use them on newer routes.

For some time now, Van Hool has been building hybrid buses running on electricity and diesel, on electricity and gas, and soon, on electricity and hydrogen. In the latter process, hydrogen and oxygen are converted into electricity in the fuel cell by means of electrolysis. The only emission it releases is water vapour, so there are no greenhouse gases or air-polluting substances. The vehicles have a range of over 300km and can refuel in ten minutes. There is room for 125 passengers. A hydrogen bus costs around one and a half times the price of a hybrid tram bus running on electricity and diesel, but EU subsidies help keep the prices down.

The contract with Pau was signed in 2017. The mayor of the French city came to the Van Hool factory in Koningshooikt, near Lier, to make a successful test drive in advance