Leaders from public transportation, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), bus and fuel cell manufacturers meet on June 21 at the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) to discuss plans to have 1,000 hydrogen fuel cell buses in service in California. Currently there are eight. 1,000 hydrogen buses would result in over 400,000 daily riders on hydrogen buses and a demand for over 40,000 kg/day of hydrogen.
The proposed Zero Emission Bus (ZEB) Regulation would accelerate the transition to hydrogen in California by providing large “anchor fleets” and large capacity fueling stations. Public response has been excellent for the hydrogen buses at AC Transit in Oakland, VTA in Santa Clara, and Sunline in Thousand Palms. Proposed Transit Agency ZEB required buses would be as follows:
• Long Beach Transit 29
• Golden Gate Transit 33
• San Mateo County Transit District 52
• Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority 80 (has 3 HFC buses)
• AC Transit 101 (has 3 HFC buses)
• San Francisco Municipal Railway 134 (meets requirement with electric trolleys)
• North County Transit District 23
• Santa Monica Big Blue Bus 26
• Omnitrans 26
• Sacramento Regional Transit District 38
• Foothill Transit 46
• San Diego Metropolitan Transit System 68
• Orange County Transportation Authority 92
• Los Angeles County MTA 384
1,132 is the total ZEB requirement if public transit fleets do not grow. Assuming some of these will be electric with limited range or an expensive overhead electric system, 1,000 are likely to be hydrogen.
Half the fleets are proposed to put ZEB in-service in 2009, half in 2010. These agencies will typically purchase buses annually, replacing buses that have been in service at least 12 years. The proposed 15% ZEB would not affect some of these agencies until 2011, and others until 2012. From there, it would take 12 years to reach the number of ZEB listed above.
Facilitating the meeting for CARB was Gerhard Achtelik and Analisa Bevan. Mr. Achtelik summarized the proposal and alternatives. His presentation included acknowledgement of public transit agencies concerns:
• Fuel cell service life
• Fueling infrastructure
Many of the leading California public transit agencies took part in the workshop as did the MTC which represents the bay area’s leading agencies. The proposal is controversial. Public transit leadership in ZEV and hydrogen will accelerate large capacity fueling and fleet adoption of clean vehicles, but early hydrogen buses cost over $3 million each. Public transit agencies run on tight budgets. Concerns were discussed, but no public transit agency stated that the proposed program could not be achieved.
Several factors will make hydrogen buses affordable. Jaimie Levin, Director of Marketing for AC Transit, reports than their suppliers VanHool, UTC and ISE are building a new 40-foot hydrogen fuel cell bus for about $2 million. Public transit normally receives 80% FTA funding for buying new buses. This would put the initial transit agency outlay at $400,000 per hydrogen bus vs. about $80,000 for a diesel bus.
The bigger concern about hydrogen for transit agencies is operating cost over the typical 12 year life of a bus. For most, hydrogen would be affordable if the fuel cell was replaced only once during the life of the bus and the replacing fuel cell would be a fraction of the current $1 million. Meeting both concerns appears likely.
UTC supports the CARB proposal. With manufacturing volume, UTC is confident of reducing fuel cell cost and extending fuel cell life. UTC currently provides a 4,000 hour warranty. In the future, UTC hopes to extend fuel cell life to 40,000 hours, which would match the 12-year life of most buses. The four buses currently using UTC fuel cells at AC Transit and Sunline are reaching double the equivalent miles-per gallon of standard diesel buses. The current fuel cell buses are demonstrating reliability, performance and a quiet ride. Michael Tosca, Senior Product Manager for UTC, felt that a $1 million hydrogen fuel cell bus could be produced if 100 were ordered together, lowering component and manufacturing costs.
CARB is considering several alternatives to soften requirements and timeline should technology not progress as expected: initiate purchase requirement through an Advanced Demonstration program; increase the fleet requirement from 2 to 15% as technology milestones are achieved; and the well-received Executive Officer Discretion Clause in implementing requirements as cost and warranty targets are achieved.
Hydrogen ICE (HICE) and CNG with hydrogen blends (HCNG) may also be allowed for the Advanced Demonstration and for being credited as 1/3 of a fuel cell bus. Such proposals would lower initial costs and simplify the transition. Many fleets are predominately CNG.
The proposed ZEB would accelerate the transition to cost-effective hydrogen transportation in California, reduce emissions, and reduce dependency on foreign oil.
Presentations on ARB Website
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded $49 million in new funding for hydrogen fuel cell buses. Congress established the National Fuel Cell Bus Technology Development Program in 2005 to facilitate development of commercially viable fuel cell bus technology. Pictured above are Mikel Oglesby, General Manager for SunLine Transit, U.S. Congresswoman Mary Bono (R-CA), a key sponsor of the bill, and James Simpson, the Bush administration’s top transit official, pictured in front of a SunLine hydrogen fuel cell bus.
The FTA goal is to have hydrogen fuel cell buses represent 10 percent of new U.S. transit bus purchases in the year 2015. These exciting awards include a new generation of fuel cells, hybrid electric propulsion, auxiliary power, and lighter aerodynamic bus designs.
$12 million in funding for several major advanced fuel cell bus projects was awarded to CALSTART, North America’s leading advanced transportation organization. The projects will expand upon existing fuel cell bus demonstration programs at AC Transit in Oakland and at SunLine Transit in the Coachella Valley, and introduce a new program for Muni in San Francisco.
The funding complements California’s new Zero Emission Bus regulation which will require over 1,000 hydrogen buses by 2020. Should California Proposition 87 be voted into law on November 7, there may be significant added hydrogen funding.
UTC Power will provide the fuel cells for the SunLine and AC Transit buses with ISE Corporation integrating the fuel cells into their hybrid propulsion systems. The hybrid design currently enables four hydrogen fuel cell buses at these transit operators to use only 120kW UTC fuel cells, yet outperform similar fuel cell buses with more expensive 200kW fuel cell systems.
SunLine currently operates both hybrid hydrogen fuel cell and hydrogen internal combustion engine buses. As part of the CALSTART program, New Flyer and ISE will also develop a new hybrid hydrogen fuel cell bus for Sunline, designed for reliable air conditioned operation in extreme desert heat conditions.
Serving the nation’s capital is Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA). They will be deploying two different advanced hydrogen fuel cell bus programs that will put six New Flyer 40-foot buses into service. In a $6,120,000 program, ISE will integrate a next generation Ballard 180 kW automotive fuel cell technology (HD6) with the ISE ThunderVolt® hybrid drive system into two New Flyer buses. Either ultracapacitors or batteries will be used.
A second $8.35 million WMATA project was awarded to the Northeast Advanced Vehicle Consortium (NAVC). UTC Power will provide its PureMotion(TM) 120 fuel cell power system for four zero-emission fuel cell hybrid electric buses that will be operated in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. UTC Power has been supplying fuel cell bus power plants since 1998 for programs in Washington, D.C., California, Spain and Italy and recently announced orders for Connecticut and Belgium.
On diesel buses, excessive fuel is used to run accessories and air conditioning. Drivers often keep buses idling at stops, rather than turn-off heat in the winter and air in the summer. Long-distance trucks often idle their engines 40% of the time to run accessories.
To run accessories electrically, the FTA is providing $5.35 million for the development of a hybrid electric-diesel bus that uses a hydrogen fuel cell for auxiliary power. San Francisco Municipal Railways (SF Muni) was selected due to their success with 56 hybrid electric buses running on the steepest grades in the nation. A Hydrogenics 12KW twin or 16 KW fuel cell, BAE drive, electrically driven accessories, and advanced energy storage will be used. BAE Systems will provide the hybrid propulsion system and do the systems integration. Accessories to be electrified include: air conditioning, power steering, air compressor, cooling pumps and fans, and heaters for cold climates.
SF Muni’s hydrogen implementation is important for a number of reasons. Muni has the nation’s largest fleet of zero-emission buses, currently using overhead trolley electrification. This infrastructure is expensive to maintain, raises safety concerns, and lacks routing flexibility. Muni’s 2006-2025 Plan includes a Clean Air Plan with the “Zero Emissions 2020” goal of a 100% zero emission fleet by the year 2020. This strategy includes replacing diesel buses with electric drive vehicles.
Muni’s Fleet Engineering Manager, Marty Mellera, sees a major potential for hydrogen in the “Zero Emissions 2020” Plan. Muni’s fleet currently totals 1,045 bus, trolley and light-rail cars.
General Electric Co. formed a $13 million research partnership with the FTA, Ballard Power Systems and A123 Systems to develop a lightweight, battery-dominant hybrid fuel cell bus for the New York Port Authority (NYPA). GE Research will integrate Ballard’s 90kW version of the HD6 module. Because batteries are less expensive than fuel cells, battery-dominant fuel cell designs can lower total capital and operating costs. Either ultracapacitors or Lithium-ion batteries will be used.
It is expected that the GE hybrid fuel cell bus will have a range of 200 miles with accessories operating, and an improved fuel cell life and cost. The focus of the research partnership will be to reduce fuel cell power requirements and improve energy storage technologies, which would help to increase the commercial viability of the technology.
The research will be led by GE’s Global Research Center in Niskayuna. “Advancements in hybrid propulsion systems and battery chemistry offer tremendous promise for enabling cleaner, more affordable transportation alternatives that will reduce reliance on fossil fuels and promote a cleaner, healthier environment,” said Mark Little, director of GE Global Research. Since launching its “ecoimagination” initiative in May 2005, GE has pledged to more than double its level of investment in the development of cleaner energy technologies, from $700 million to $1.5 billion during the next five years.
Hybrid fuel cell buses are currently delivering double the fuel economy of diesel buses. A way to further improve the fuel economy and lower the size of the needed fuel cell is to make the buses lighter and more aerodynamic. Leading the way is Mobile Energy Solutions of Colorado, with buses built from a composite material. The buses will receive one-third of its power from batteries and the remainder from the fuel cells.
Their 37-passenger 35-foot bus, will be demonstrated at Columbia, South Carolina, Birmingham, Alabama, Hartford and New Haven, Connecticut. The energy system has yet to be finalized. It is expected to be battery-dominate with a 32kW Hydrogenics fuel cell. Mobile Energy estimates costs to operate the bus at about 42 cents per mile, compared with 69 cents for a conventional diesel-powered bus. $5.67 million to a 16-member development team for the project through the Center for Transportation and Environment in Atlanta. The total price tag on the hybrid-electric fuel-cell bus project is $13.1 million.
Nuvera Fuel Cells through the Northeast Advanced Vehicle Consortium (NAVC) was awarded a $4.875 million grant from the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) for a hydrogen fuel cell bus and refueling demonstration project at Logan International Airport. Nuvera will be providing one 82 kW fuel cell power module, which will be integrated into a Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) shuttle bus. Additionally, Nuvera is providing a Powertap(TM) hydrogen generation system to provide an on-site hydrogen infrastructure to the fuel cell bus. Other partners in this project include Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), ISE Corporation, Keyspan and AVSG.
Over four million people have been riders on hydrogen buses. Public transit reduces road congestion, saves fuel and emissions by transporting hundreds of millions daily. Public transit brings wide exposure to clean transportation. Public transit is an excellent early adopter of hydrogen because it does not depend on a widespread fuel infrastructure and the fuel storage cylinders can be placed on the roof of buses. Hydrogen buses accelerate the development of fueling stations. Larger capacity production and fueling takes place because these buses use 30 to 50 kg/day of hydrogen. Public transit is accelerating our transition to clean transportation.