Buses driven by fuel cell engines will be put into use in China in 2008 when the country hosts the Olympic Games, a scientist with the bus research project said.
Zhang Huamin, a professor with the fuel cell engineering center under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the country's first 50-kw fuel-cell engine for use on urban buses has been created in the center, located in Dalian, a coastal city in northeast China's Liaoning Province.
The engine's technical specifications are quite near to advanced international levels, said Zhang, who is leading the fuel-cell bus research project.
Tests by a motor research institute affiliated with Tsinghua University show that the hydrogen efficiency of the engine is as high as 97 percent, while the efficiency of the fuel cell groups stands at 57 percent, according to Zhang.
As fuel cells are a highly efficient and environmentally-friendly source of energy, it is widely believed that the technology has a great future as the world's petroleum dwindles.
The technology is particularly important for China as it copes with increasing dependence on imported oil and worsening urban pollution brought on by a rapidly increasing number of private cars.
The CAS Dalian Institute of Chemicophysics, where the fuel cell engineering center is located, began fuel cell research in the 1960s. In collaboration with other organizations, the institute has successfully developed fuel cell engines for minibuses and sedans.
Fuel cells may also give an advantage to China's fledgling motor industry.
"It is almost impossible for China to catch up with the advanced international levels in the field of traditional technology, but in the field of fuel cells, the gap between China and the world is very small," Zhang said. "China's motor industry will leap forward if it can seize the opportunity brought by fuel cells."
The price of fuel cell engines is now dozens of times more than that of traditional engines, but Zhang predicted that their massive application may become possible around 2005 to 2010.
(Xinhua News Agency November 12, 2002)