A new hydrogen fuel cell bus – the first large bus of its kind in Kyushu – will take to the streets in November, and students from Kyushu University will be giving it an iconic look.
The bus will run for two and half years between Kyushu University’s Ito Campus and the nearest train station, Kyudai Gakkentoshi, and will be powered by hydrogen produced at Kyushu University’s Hydrogen Station using zero emissions solar energy.
At a design competition held at Kyushu University’s Ohashi Campus on August 3, two international student teams – the Science Design Team made up of one Japanese student and two Chinese students and the Another World Design Team made up of one Japanese student, one Chinese student and three Italian students – pitched their bus designs to a range of stakeholders.
The judges included officials from Fukuoka Prefecture, Fukuoka City and Itoshima City; researcher(s) from Kyushu University’s Faculty of Engineering; and representatives from the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation, the SHOWA bus company, Nishinippon Plant Engineering and Construction Company, and Kyushu Electric Power.
Keiji Kawakami, a representative from Kyushu Electric Power, highlighted the importance of the bus in an opening speech. “It will be a prominent symbol that marks the first step towards a green energy ecosystem in the Fukuoka area, with an ultimate goal of carbon neutrality by 2050,” he said.
Minako Ikeda, an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Design introduced the two student teams and explained the design brief given to the teams. “The aim of these designs is to spread awareness to students and the public about the hydrogen bus and to help passengers think about energy and power,” she said.
Before they could create their designs, both student teams needed to understand the science behind the hydrogen fuel cell bus. They visited the Hydrogen Station and received a talk from Associate Professor Yuta Tachikawa of the Faculty of Engineering on how hydrogen fuel cells worked and the benefits of clean energy.
During their pitches, each team presented renders of the exterior wrap design, as well as educational and inspirational messages that could be displayed inside the bus to engage the public.
After their presentations, they spoke in an interview about their experience creating the designs.
“We don’t have a science background so it was very difficult but really interesting,” said Fubuki Shimizu from the Science Design Team. “We chose to focus on the mechanism of the hydrogen fuel cell – in which hydrogen and oxygen react to make water and electricity – and communicate that to the passengers. Our main message was that when you ride on this bus, you are part of the system and contribute to a cleaner, greener environment.”
In contrast, the Another World Design Team opted for a design that emphasized emotion over explanation.
“We wanted to interpret the scientific concepts in a simple way. We chose colors and sounds that create a calm, futuristic mood and used a wave pattern made out of smaller particles to represent the relationship between hydrogen and water,” said Giorgia Zani from the Another World Design team.
At the end of the event, the stakeholders provided constructive feedback on the designs and ultimately cast a vote for their preferred design.
The final design of the hydrogen fuel bus will be created in collaboration with students from Kyushu University’s Graduate School of Engineering and revealed at the opening ceremony in November.
Minako Ikeda, Associate Professor
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