- Fuel cells for the long-distance bus
Weinheim— FlixBus and Freudenberg Sealing Technologies are working together in a future project on sustainable, CO2-free mobility.
Together, Europe’s largest supplier of long-distance bus travel – FlixBus – and the global technology specialist Freudenberg Sealing Technologies want to bring coaches with fuel cell propulsion to the streets. The expansion of the partnership with a bus manufacturer is planned and talks have begun.
Within a few years, the green FlixBuses have become an integral part of the streetscape in Europe and the USA. They connect destinations across Europe and transport people in around 30 countries. Green is not just the color of the buses and trains. The modern Fernbusse of the FlixBus fleet are one of the most environmentally friendly means of transport at all; The same applies to the FlixTrains, which are operated with 100 percent green electricity. Now FlixBus wants to go one step further with Freudenberg. Fabian Stenger, Managing Director of FlixBus DACH: “We want to help shape the future of mobility. The modern FlixBus and FlixTrain fleet is already extremely environmentally friendly. Nevertheless, we are always asking ourselves how we make travel even more sustainable and CO 2Output per capita can be further reduced. After three successfully launched E-long-distance buses, we now want to work with Freudenberg to develop the first fuel cell-powered remote bus and set another milestone in the history of mobility. ”
Against the backdrop of ever stricter CO 2 limits, Freudenberg Sealing Technologies has for decades been helping manufacturers of cars and commercial vehicles use gasket innovations to reduce fuel consumption and emissions from combustion engines. At the same time, the Freudenberg Group was already involved in the development of technically advanced components for fuel cells and batteries in the mid-1990s when it came to researching alternative drive concepts. Among other things, it developed gas-diffusion layers (GDLs) and seals for the fuel cell stack.
At the beginning of 2018, Freudenberg Sealing Technologies strategically supplemented and strengthened this know-how built up over decades by acquiring a fuel cell manufacturer. At the same time, the company also acquired important technological expertise in battery technology through its stake in the US battery manufacturer XALT Energy. Freudenberg Sealing Technologies now holds the majority stake in XALT Energy. In this way, the company has gained a prominent position in the market in the field of alternative or electric drives with its two future technologies, the battery and the fuel cell. According to Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, the combination of these two technologies for clean, efficient and economical drives will come into wide-ranging application in the future.
For the mobility of the future, the company offers manufacturers of heavy-duty applications – especially buses, railways, trucks and ships – with this solution a one-stop shop for complete electrical energy systems. From complete battery to highly efficient mobile fuel cell systems – including all components, modules, and subsystems necessary for their operation. The range will also be expanded to include integrated hybrid propulsion systems that combine the benefits of battery and fuel cell in a complementary manner.
Freudenberg Sealing Technologies therefore has a unique level of added value in-house for both batteries and fuel cells. This extends from the separator via the cell to the complete battery system or from the gas diffusion layers via the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) and the stack to the finished fuel cell. The systems can be modularly assembled in different performance levels as in a standardized modular system, depending on the requirement profile. For the operators, this means greater efficiency, better everyday usability and cost advantages in terms of the total cost of ownership (TCO).
“We see the fuel cell in combination with batteries as an integral part of the mobility of the future.” – Claus Möhlencamp, CEO of Freudenberg Sealing Technologies
Clear requirement profile
“The technical requirements for performance and lasting reliability are particularly high in the heavy-duty business. This meets our technological and innovation expertise, “says Claus Möhlenkamp, CEO of Freudenberg Sealing Technologies. “We see the fuel cell in combination with batteries as an integral part of the mobility of the future. With FlixBus we have found a partner for this zero emission application and look forward to working together in this groundbreaking project. ”
FlixBus clearly defined the requirement profile for its vehicles. Features such as the acceleration should correspond to those of today, diesel-powered buses with Euro VI standard. Without refueling the fuel cell vehicles to travel at least 500 kilometers in one go. The refueling itself should last a maximum of 20 minutes, just like today, except that hydrogen flows into the tank instead of diesel.
The hybrid system, which intelligently combines battery and fuel cells, can also be used directly for heavy commercial vehicles such as trucks in addition to long-distance bus transport. Initially, a representative bus fleet of 30 vehicles will be equipped with the system during the validation phase. In addition, the two companies are seeking public funding under the “National Innovation Program Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology” (NIP). This is to ensure that this technology quickly reaches market maturity and thus contributes significantly to the reduction of CO 2 in road traffic.
“The electrification of the drive technology is progressing in huge steps. I am very pleased that we were able to convince another well-known customer of our innovative strength and quality with FlixBus “, continues Möhlenkamp. What starts rolling together on the roads of Europe together with FlixBus could continue on the highways and highways of other continents – and, according to the will of the project partners, also set the course for rail transport in the future.