SASA (società autobus servizi d’area) SpA, which manages urban and suburban public road transport services in the Italian municipalities of Bolzano, Laives, Merano and Lana in South Tyrol, is the first company anywhere to place an order for Urbino 12 hydrogen buses manufactured by Solaris Bus & Coach SA of Poland. The contract includes an 8 year-long service and maintenance package.
The zero-emission vehicles are destined for operations in Bolzano. They will be equipped with cutting-edge full cell (60 kW) and Solaris High Power batteries. The battery is filled with energy derived from hydrogen and through the regenerative braking, though it is also possible to recharge it by means of a plug-in socket. Complementing the driveline is an axle with integrated electric motors (2 x 125 kW). In order to reduce energy use to a maximum, the vehicles will feature a climate control system with a CO₂ heat pump that uses waste heat from the fuel cell.
In a hydrogen fuel cell, electric power is generated in a process called reverse electrolysis and then passed on directly to the driveline. The sole products of the chemical reaction occurring in the fuel cell are heat and steam. Consequently, the vehicle does not generate any noxious substances whatsoever. Hydrogen is stored in composite roof-mounted tanks. Thanks to the use of advanced technology, the bus will be capable of covering up to 350 km on a single refill.
Part of the contract is also a special drivers’ and workshop personnel’s training emphasizing the safety aspects of using and servicing hydrogen vehicles.
In Bolzano, hydrogen buses have actually been serving the populace of the South Tyrolean capital since 2013. Co-financed by the European Union under the CHIC (Clean Hydrogen in European Cities) project, 5 fuel cell buses were employed by SASA from November 2013 until the end of 2016 these buses, travelling about 630,000 km and eliminating the use of 270.000 litres of diesel. The EVOBUS (Mercedes-Benz) Citaro O530 BZH fuel cell buses continue to provide daily public transportation in the city.