São Paulo premieres hydrogen-powered eco-bus
by David Masters
July 8, 2009
Commuters in São Paulo could soon find themselves riding to work on a hydrogen powered eco-bus.
The region’s first hydrogen-powered bus – which runs silently and does not produce a single gram of pollution – was launched on the streets of São Paulo this week as part of a two month pilot scheme.
With nearly half of the city’s 18 million inhabitants riding the bus every day, the initiative has huge potential to reduce carbon emissions and pollution in the region.
“The process is totally clean, in a closed loop: it begins with water plus energy and ends with the same elements,” said Carlos Zündt, co-ordinator of the São Paulo hydrogen bus project
“Our main goal at this point is not to completely replace the fleet – because the technology is still too expensive – but to study how a clean public transportation initiative would work in a huge city like São Paulo.”
The 63-passenger hybrid bus uses both battery and hydrogen power. It can switch between the two power sources, or use both simultaneously.
“This is the first prototype, and was a result of four years of research and knowledge sharing by a consortium of national and international partners,” Zündt said.
Hydrogen, though a clean energy source, is expensive to produce.
“Diesel is much cheaper,” Zündt said. “But it is a highly pollutant fuel.
“So we must also consider the costs of public spending in respiratory diseases and other horrible effects of pollution and acid rain.
“If you take that into account, diesel has a cost 200 times higher than hydrogen.”
An energy plant to produce hydrogen by electrolysis is currently under construction in Brazil, and will be complete in six months.
Until then, the bus will use hydrogen processed from natural gas.
The city aims to have 4 hydrogen buses running by June 2010.
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