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Hydrogen street cleaner comes to Dübendorf

Dübendorf’s streets are now being cleaned by a hydrogen-driven street sweeper. The innovative vehicle was developed by researchers from Empa and the Paul Scherrer Institute in collaboration with Bucher Municipal.
 Dübendorf’s streets are now being cleaned by a hydrogen-driven street sweeper.
Dübendorf’s streets are now being cleaned by a hydrogen-driven street sweeper.

The innovative hydrogen-driven street sweeper has been in use in Dübendorf since the end of August and will be tested over a two-year period. It is powered by a drive system developed by Bucher Municipal in collaboration with researchers from the Materials Science and Technology Institute (Empa) and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI).

Previous drive systems of this type had the problem that the fuel cell rapidly aged due to the very high dust levels. But the researchers have now solved this problem by developing a process to treat the reactive air in the fuel cell.

While fuel cells are more expensive than conventional systems, they are worth using in street sweepers because they are in use the entire day. Efficiency gains have a strong impact on the overall gains, explains Empa. Hydrogen-driven street sweepers require 60 to 70 per cent less energy than conventional street sweepers, according to analysts, thus offsetting the initial costs.

The new street sweepers will be charged at Empa, where hydrogen is produced using renewable energy. The so-called power-to-gas concept is one of Empa’s research focuses.

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