The Swiss have decided to go where no many has gone before and that is to test a municipal street sweeper using a hydrogen fuel cell. Cleaning up the air and the streets at the same time is the point of the Bucher CityCat H2 vehicle.
Creating the CityCat H2 took a coordinated effort among Empa, the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), Bucher Schoerling, Proton Motor, BRUSA Elektronik AG und Messer Schweiz. Empa provided the photo on this page.
For the next 18 months the fuel cell will be tested in normal everyday use. The makers estimate that even though the hydrogen will be manufactured from natural gas, it will still emit 40-percent less CO2 that a comparable diesel engine counterpart.
One question that hasn’t been addressed is how the Bucher CityCat H2 fuel cell will handle all the dust kicked up by the municipal vehicle. Typically, fuel cells use compressed hydrogen gas and ambient air for the needed oxygen. A street sweeper in particular kicks up an inordinate amount of dust so additional filtration must be in place in order to keep from contaminating the fuel cell.
No matter what though, the Bucher CityCat H2 provides a clean sweep over the diesel versions and hopefully many more like it will evolve out of the testing.