Brazil has been in the various stages of planning for the past three years and is expected in 2007 to roll out eight 90-passenger hydrogen buses for testing in Sao Paulo and also in Rio de Janeiro the following year. The eight hydrogen fuel cell buses are expected to log about 600,000 miles of testing in real world conditions around the two major cities and is being backed by the United Nations Development Program.
The buses will be powered by Ballard Xcellsis HY-80 fuel cell powerplants (68 kw) and be refueled by a Stuart Energy hydrogen electrolyzing unit. Under Brazil’s Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus Program as many as 100 – 200 hydrogen buses may be introduced to the fleet if testing is successful.
Besides testing hydrogen fuel cell buses, Brazil is also planning to manufacture hydrogen as well from renewable resources such as hydropower and sugarcane (ethanol). Brazil is already the world’s largest producer and exporter of ethanol, delivering massive amounts of the cash crop biofuel to countries like Sweden and Japan, which are trying to conform to the Kyoto Protocol. While not part of Kyoto, the United States is the largest importer of Brazilian ethanol. In 2007, Brazil is expected to become energy independent based upon its internal use of ethanol as an alternative to gasoline.
Because Brazil has a sweet tooth for clean energy and a renewable resource such as sugarcane to supply the demand, it stands to reason, that this South American country will one day be one of the world’s major hydrogen suppliers as well. Since many see the ethanol infrastructure as a viable means of transition to a hydrogen infrastructure, Brazil is sure to be a player in the development of the world’s hydrogen economy.