“The most important paths travelled to our lungs”

Is the return of cleaner air in Brussels just around the corner?
Manufacturing & Process
17 September 2018

Pascal Smet, Brussels Minister of Mobility and Public Works, leaves no room for doubt: “The most important path travelled  to our lungs”. The Brussels-Capital Region’s government is looking to step up the fight against air pollution, which includes a 2030 target banning diesel-engined cars from the city. And in the longer term there’s a possibility that petrol cars will be banned too...

Air Liquide also sees air quality as a key priority, and to this end already has a number of initiatives in place. “Minister Smet was interested in finding out how we could lend a hand in improving Brussels Capital Region,” Joachim Comer, District Manager of Air Liquide, clarifies. “We responded by inviting him to our office to present our main initiatives.”

Dubious alternatives

If a city like Brussels transitions to hydrogen  buses and taxis, fine particulates and CO2 emissions. “In theory, that also possible with ordinary battery-powered electric vehicles; however, that’s only  the electrical energy powering the cars is derived from sustainable sources, such as wind and solar energy,” Joachim Comer . “If that’s not the case, we won’t actually be doing much more than shifting the CO2 problem somewherelse.” While it’s true that nuclear energy eliminates these problems, it also creates serious long-term environmental repercussions, not to mention the other significant risks.

Other concerns about battery-powered electric vehicles include their limited range and long charging times. , and it seems highly likely that batteries prices will  rise  because of an imminent cobalt shortage. In addition, battery manufacture involves the extraction of rare metals, which leads to considerable negative environmental consequences.

Blue Hydrogen

“In contrast, hydrogen can be produced entirely from renewable energy sources - here referring specifically to Blue Hydrogen - and is already capable of fuelling a trip of up to 500 km. If we  tank or increase the pressure, distance could be increased substantially. What’s more, refuelling takes less than five minutes.” sense for cities to seriously consider switching to hydrogen power too. here are already hydrogen-powered buses on the Antwerp, and bus manufacturer Van Hool has just received an order for 40 hydrogen-powered buses  Cologne and Wuppertal.

“Minister Pascal Smet asked us to carry out a feasibility study of public transport in Brussels and what it would take to run their STIB/MIVB fleet on hydrogen. We’ll be submitting a our detailed report to him before too long."

“New, clean fuel technologies better air quality. Hydrogen is one such clean fuel, and recently infrastructure has been installed in Brussels that trucks the option to refuel quickly. We continue to keep a close eye on developments to see where  to a more liveable city,” says Minister for Mobility and Public Works of the Brussels-Capital Region, Pascal Smet.


The price tag

“Hydrogen has one disadvantage, however, and that’s the cost of a filling station. As long as there  vehicles  the stations, costs will be to recoup. On the other hand, you could ask yourself just how  and premature deaths could be prevented by significantly reducing air pollution using these stations,” Joachim Comer adds. “With that in mind, it’s worth noting that the OECD - the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development - has that without major countermeasures, air pollution will become the world’s leading cause of premature death by 2050.”

The City’s Lungs

The “City’s Lungs” project was also discussed with Minister Smet. This involves an advanced air purification system that filters fine particulates out of the air pilot project in Eindhoven’s city centre.

Please contact Joachim Comer for more information.