2013 "Watt d’Or" award

Post bus powered by fuel cell receives energy prize

Jan 11, 2013 | MARTINA PETER

PostBus Switzerland Ltd, Empa and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), who were jointly responsible for developing the fuel cell-powered post bus, won the prestigious 2013 "Watt d’Or" award in the category "Energy-efficient Mobility" on 10th January in Bern. In making this award, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy has singled out a highly innovative project that is making a valuable contribution to safe, economical and environmentally friendly energy provision.


Caption: Fuel Cell-Powered Bus Project Leader Nikoletta Seraidou (centre) with Empa project members Dr Andreas Züttel (left) und Dr Michael Bielmann (right)


For over a year now, five new post buses have been operating in Brugg in the canton of Aargau. They are refuelled with hydrogen at a new filling station. The hydrogen is produced at the post bus depot in an electrolyser using "natural" electricity, i.e. electricity from renewable sources. By doing this, PostBus Switzerland Ltd is seeking to reduce the energy consumption of its post buses and make its operations more environmentally friendly. The Swiss Federal Office of Energy has named this project as the winner of the prestigious "Watt d'Or award in the category "Energy-efficient Mobility"  Energy experts selected the project as one of six winners out of a total of 74 candidates. The project team includes researchers from Empa and PSI, with both research institutes taking part as scientific partners.


Sämtliche Teammitglieder des Brennstoffzellenpostauto-Projekts bei der Übergabe des Watt d'Or 2013 in Bern. (Bildquelle: BFE http://www.flickr.com/photos/admin-bfe/)


The Empa "Hydrogen and Energy" section led by Andreas Züttel, with its many years of experience in the area of hydrogen production and storage, was on hand to provide PostBus Switzerland Ltd with consultative support from the outset. Empa researcher Michael Bielmann submitted a pilot and demonstration project to the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, with the aim of investigating the efficiency of hydrogen production and its integration into the electricity market. He is pooling the experiences gained from the construction of the hydrogen filling station so that they can be used for future projects.

Pan-European project
Brigitte Buchmann, Empa board member and head of the "Mobility, Energy and Environment" department, is delighted about the award: "This award confirms the direction in which our research is headed. Now further steps need to be taken; we are currently planning the first local, industrial-scale production of  hydrogen from renewable or excess power."


The post buses and filling station are being tested as part of the five-year EU project known as "CHIC" (Clean Hydrogen In European Cities). Several bus companies from other European cities are taking part in the project alongside vehicle manufacturers and energy suppliers. Thus differently organised practical tests can take place under the most diverse conditions.

In order to publicise the fuel cell-powered post bus, two hydrogen-powered post buses will be transferred from Brugg to Davos. They will run on the town's no. 3 bus route between 22nd and 27th January during the 2013 "World Economic Forum". Passengers who arrive by train will be able to enjoy a comfortable ride to the conference centre, one that is totally emission-free and undisturbed by engine noise.



  • Media release from Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) concerning Watt d'Or award here
  • Dokumentation "energeia": Siegerprojekte des Watt d'Or 2013 (in german only) hier


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