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A New Bus at Munich Airport Runs on Gas From Our Waste

Uebergabe eines Passagierbusses mit innovativem Biogas-Elektrik-Antrieb / Flughafen Muenchen / Muenchen / 19.08.2020 Foto: Stephan Goerlich / FMG

The Association of the German Gas Industry has awarded this year’s Innovation Prize in the “Mobility & Transport” category to the pilot test of a passenger bus at Munich airport that runs on liquid methane.

The prize was themed around the slogan “Gas Innovations for the Energy Turnaround” and looked for ideas that contributed to a greener economy. The methane bus was developed in cooperation with the start-up company CM Fluids from Rohrbach. The winners came up with an innovative concept for the traditional passenger bus, and in doing so, offered some fresh ideas for the future of mobility.

As part of the promising pilot project, a passenger bus from the airport’s vehicle fleet, initially powered by diesel, was converted to a climate-friendly drive system using liquid methane. The bus was also equipped with a generator-electric drive. The engine’s energy is also temporarily stored in a buffer battery, which supplies the electric drive axle with electricity. After the successful conversion, the bus will be extraordinarily energy-efficient and also climate-neutral when refueled with biomethane.

Biomethane is a sustainable fuel that is produced by biogas upgraders which remove the CO2. Biomethane is produced from biogas derived from organic matter such as human waste, sewage, food waste, distillery waste or agricultural materials.

The advantages of the CMF drive system are enormous for passenger buses with long operating times or frequent starts and stops, such as those used on airport aprons. In contrast to a conventional electric bus, with a range of 200 miles, this new hybrid can travel up to 500 miles on a single tank of fuel.

For the jury of the German gas industry, chaired by Prof. Dr. Frank Behrendt, head of the Department of Energy Process Engineering and Conversion Technologies for Renewable Energies at the Technical University of Berlin, the joint project makes an important contribution to climate protection: “With the conversion from diesel to biomethane, CM Fluids offers a unique solution that is both economically viable and reduces exhaust emissions to almost zero. Munich Airport is thus becoming a pioneer in climate protection on the apron”.

“Resourceful engineers have developed a showcase project that could serve as a blueprint for many municipal transport companies,” said Jost Lammers, CEO of Munich Airport. “On the one hand, the conversion of existing vehicles is economical and saves expensive new purchases, and on the other hand, regionally produced biomethane from our surrounding area is consumed directly at the airport.”

The vehicle fleet’s gradual conversion to renewable energies fits in perfectly with Munich Airport’s climate strategy. If the concept proves its worth in everyday operations, additional passenger buses will be converted. Munich Airport is implementing a wide range of technological measures to achieve the airport’s CO2-neutral operation by 2030.

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