FlixBus and Freudenberg Sealing Technologies announced a collaboration to put fuel-cell powered coaches on the road. They will further extend their partnership in the near future through participation from a bus manufacturer. FlixBus and Freudenberg are holding talks to finalize project parameters.

In recent years, the bright green FlixBus buses have grown to become an indispensable part of Europe’s long-distance transportation network. They connect destinations across Europe and carry passengers to roughly 30 countries. The modern long-distance buses of the FlixBus fleet are one of the most environmentally friendly means of transport. The same applies to FlixTrains, which operate on 100% green electricity.

"We want to help shape the future of mobility,” said Fabian Stenger, Managing Director of FlixBus DACH. “The modern FlixBus and FlixTrain fleet is already extremely environmentally friendly. Nevertheless, we are constantly asking ourselves how we can make travel even more sustainable and further reduce CO2 emissions per capita. Following the successful launch of three electric long-distance buses, we now want to develop the first long-distance bus with fuel cell drive together with Freudenberg and set another milestone in the history of mobility."

Freudenberg Sealing Technologies is pursuing integrated battery fuel-cell systems that will address power, base load and unique operating cycles in a range of heavy-duty applications that include truck, bus, commercial marine, and rail transportation. The company aims to become a single-source supplier of complete battery, fuel cell, and hybrid energy systems that include all of the components, modules, and subsystems necessary for their operation.

This would give Freudenberg Sealing Technologies an industrywide in-house depth of value added in both batteries and fuel cells. This ranges from the separator to the cell to the complete battery system or from the gas diffusion layers (GDL) to the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) and the stack to the finished fuel cell. The modular systems can be customized to accommodate different performance requirements that offer customers better efficiency, value, and total cost of ownership opportunities for their unique circumstances.

"The technical requirements for performance and long-term reliability are particularly high in heavy-duty businesses. This is in line with our technological and innovation expertise," said Claus Möhlenkamp, CEO of Freudenberg Sealing Technologies. "We see the fuel cell in combination with electric batteries as an integral part of the mobility of the future. With FlixBus, we have found a partner for this zero-emission application and are looking forward to working together on this groundbreaking project.”

FlixBus has defined the requirement profile for its vehicles. Performance characteristics such as acceleration should correspond to those of today's diesel-powered, long-distance buses that are compliant to the Euro IV standard. These fuel-cell vehicles should cover at least 500 km (310 mi) of continuous use without refueling. Hydrogen refueling, itself, should be possible in 20 minutes or less—a time similar to what is required to refill a diesel fuel tank.

The hybrid system, which combines battery and fuel cells, can be used in long-distance bus transportation and heavy commercial vehicle applications. Initially, a representative bus fleet of 30 vehicles will be equipped with a hybrid powertrain to validate system performance. The two companies are also aiming for public funding within the framework of the German "National Innovation Program Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology" (NIP). The goal is to ensure that this technology quickly reaches market maturity and thus makes a significant contribution to reducing CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.