The Kirchhoff Group Starts Manufacturing the World’s First Refuse and Sweeper Vehicles with Hydrogen Fuel Cells

By January 29, 2020 3   min read  (605 words)

January 29, 2020 |

FAUN Hydogen Street Sweeper

ISERLOHN / WÖRTH–The Kirchhoff subsidiary Faun produces the world’s first refuse and sweeper vehicles with fuel cell drives. Not just good for city centers.

Through its subsidiary Faun, the Kirchhoff Group is the first German company to launch hydrogen-powered refuse and sweepers in series production. The Bluepower has now been presented at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Wörth near Karlsruhe; they are being built at the plant in Osterholz-Scharmbeck.

Fuel cell technology is particularly interesting for cities that are affected by possible diesel driving bans, because the vehicles are emission-free when they collect the garbage or sweep the street. At the same time, they have a significantly higher output than battery-powered vehicles, which is crucial for use in mountainous areas. At the same time, the fuel cell and the hydrogen tank on the vehicle are many times lighter than a comparable battery, so that more payload remains available.

Real circular economy in Wuppertal

It is not surprising that the Wuppertal waste management company (AWG), which is traveling in a topographically difficult area (Wuppertal, Remscheid, Velbert), is one of the first customers for one of the 22 Bluepower vehicles that are to be delivered this year. Wupper is about a holistic concept of sustainability. Hydrogen (H2) is generated at our own waste-to-energy plant, which the municipal buses and garbage disposal with the Bluepower provide for a real circular economy, because the Bluepower delivers the collected waste to the waste-to-energy plant and, at the same time, refuels hydrogen that is produced from the electricity generated by the waste-to-energy plant for the next tour.

The price of the clean garbage trucks could perhaps put some municipalities off: Currently, the acquisition costs are around 800,000 euros. That is half a million euros more than for a conventional diesel-powered vehicle. However: Up to 80 percent of the additional costs, i.e. 400,000 euros, can be received by municipal companies as government grants if you decide to pick up the garbage silently and emission-free in the future.

It is no coincidence that the official premiere for the Blue Power now took place in the modern Mercedes-Benz plant in Wörth. Faun uses the chassis of the Mercedes-Econic as the basis for the new vehicles. Daimler supplies the Kirchhoff subsidiary with the Econics without an engine and drive train, so that they can be converted without problems and at unnecessarily high costs. When it comes to emission-free drives, Daimler initially concentrates on the delivery vehicles E-Actros and E-Fuso. According to the company, an electric drive for the Econic is only in preparation.

Development started in 2011

By contrast, Faun launched Dualpower, a hybrid vehicle that had a battery-electric drive as a supplement, as early as 2010.

Now, 10 years later, the managing partner Dr. Johannes Kirchhoff the next stage of evolution. “With all the data that we collect during waste disposal, we were able to optimally design the vehicles for the special tours. Each tour is different, requires more or less energy, depending on the topography of the area and the type of waste material to be collected. This doesn’t matter in a vehicle with an internal combustion engine, since you always have enough energy with a large diesel tank. It is different with an electric drive with limited battery capacity. With the range extender, we can now precisely serve the resulting new requirements. ”

Faun started developing the technology in 2011. “Hydrogen drives have a lot more development potential than battery-powered ones,” Johannes Kirchhoff is convinced – otherwise the Kirchhoff Group would hardly have taken the high risk of becoming a vehicle manufacturer itself.


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