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Following the Department of Energy's $74 million fuel cell grant announcement, the U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has declared that it will award nearly $16.6 million to two organizations actively involved in fuel-cell powered bus research projects. The Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) in Atlanta, GA will receive $6.42 million and CALSTART in Pasadena, CA will be awarded $10.17 million. FTA administrator Peter Rogoff, spoke of the need to focus on cleaning up the nation's buses:
The transit industry must continue to be at the forefront of creating green jobs and establishing globally competitive technologies right here at home in the United States. As we move clean, fuel-efficient bus projects from the drawing board to the street, we move the nation closer to energy independence and a cleaner environment.
The CTE and CALSTART will utilize the funds to coordinate eight fuel cell bus projects, a list of which is posted, along with the official release, after the jump.

[Source: Federal Transit Administration]
Fuel cell bus projects funded by the FTA
Next Generation Fuel Cell Power System Development Towards Transit Bus Commercialization
Amount: $7,200,000
The first phase of a multi-phase project to develop a next generation fuel cell power system, leading to commercialization of a fuel cell bus that is compliant with FTA Buy America regulations.

Chicago Transit Authority Fuel Cell Bus Demonstration
Amount: $2,970,000
Develop and conduct in-service testing for a next generation Buy America compliant fuel cell bus in Chicago's RTA fleet. This project will demonstrate a fuel cell bus in a large transit agency, with the potential for larger fleets of cell bus procurements, as well as develop and demonstrate new technology that enables operation of fuel cell buses in cold climates.

Advanced Composite Fuel Cell Bus Demonstration

Amount: $2,421,724
CTE will use the funds to develop and demonstrate a highly-efficient 35-foot Proterra fuel cell bus with an enhanced Ballard HD6 fuel cell and fast-charging capabilities and will demonstrate the bus in revenue service.

Birmingham Fuel Cell Bus Demonstration Program
Amount: $1,545,148
CTE will use the funds for continuation of Birmingham's fuel cell bus demonstration. The funds will support the development and demonstration of a 30-foot battery-dominant fuel cell bus, incorporating advanced Lithium battery technology, with improved range, acceleration, and fuel economy.

Austin Demonstration Program Enhancement
Amount: $133,774
CTE will use the funds to continue operation of Austin's fuel cell bus demonstration program with enhancements.

DC/DC Converter Development Program
Amount: $195,573
CTE will use the funds to develop an 18 kilowatt DC-DC converter that will interface with equivalent fuel cell systems and traction battery systems with greater efficiency.

Coordination of Communications and Outreach for Fuel Cell Bus Program
Amount: $459,120
CTE will coordinate outreach and communications of fuel cell buses through international and national workgroups, fuel cell bus website, and worldwide report on demonstrations.
ECO Saver IV Hybrid Electric Fuel Cell Bus Demonstration
Amount: $1,667,408
CTE will use the funds to initiate a project to integrate an advanced Ballard fuel cell with hybrid drive/energy management and storage systems into a commercially viable transit bus using an existing hybrid platform.

PRESS RELEASE

FTA Program Promotes Advanced Fuel Cell Technologies to Power Cleaner, Greener Transit Buses


WASHINGTON – Pursuing new technologies to let fuel cell buses operate in cold climates is among the research projects to receive money from the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) National Fuel Cell Bus Program, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today.

The Center for Transportation and the Environment in Atlanta will receive $6.42 million and CALSTART in Pasadena, CA will receive $10.17 million to coordinate research among fuel cell manufacturers, engineering firms and transit agencies throughout the country.

"The Obama Administration is proud to partner with researchers who are exploring greener, more efficient ways to power buses," said Secretary LaHood. "Adapting fuel-cell technology to buses will result in a cleaner environment and quieter streets for everyone."

"The transit industry must continue to be at the forefront of creating green jobs and establishing globally competitive technologies right here at home in the United States," said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. "As we move clean, fuel-efficient bus projects from the drawing board to the street, we move the nation closer to energy independence and a cleaner environment."

Other projects being funded this year include an effort to develop a smaller, less costly and more durable fuel cell power system that will enable commercialization of U.S. fuel cell buses, and an effort to develop and demonstrate a lightweight highly efficient bus that incorporates an improved hybrid-electric drive and enhanced bus design.

The purpose of the program is to facilitate the development of commercially viable fuel cell bus technologies and increase public acceptance of the fuel cell vehicles. The program is one of three environmentally friendly FTA grant competitions whose winners have been recently announced. The others are the Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) and the Clean Fuels programs.

A complete list of Fuel Cell Bus Program projects being funded can be found at http: http://www.fta.dot.gov/news/news_events_12231.html


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  • 7 Comments
      • 5 Months Ago
      Great news for ISE Corporation, hopefully this can help pull them out of bankruptcy.
      • 5 Months Ago
      :)
        • 5 Months Ago
        I noticed the mention of "fast charging" and "battery dominant", sounds like some of these projects are going to be plug-in/fuel cell hybrids, no doubt using electricity to reduce fuel costs.

        I wonder if any of them will use alternatives to bulky expensive H2 fuel for their fuel cells. One can only hope.
      • 5 Months Ago
      These buses cost $2M apiece. How much do regular buses cost?
        • 5 Months Ago
        Roy, you can't work out unit costs for these buses based on prototypes.
        If one takes production figures that Hyundai reckon they will hit by 2015 for fuel cells for their SUV, the 100kw unit might cost around $30k or so of their estimated $50k price for the SUV.
        On that reckoning the premium for the 200kw or so you would need for a bus might be $60k or so.
        If the costs don't come down from the prototype, they won't be mass produced - it really is that simple.

        My own (very) rough calculations for the saved costs in medical bills and shortened lifespans in the case of London put the potential savings for the 8,000 or so buses London would need at of the order of $1 million each.
        Pollution when properly costed is surprisingly expensive.

        The battle in polluted cities, given any rationality in costings, is between battery vehicles such as Proterra and fuel cells, not ICE vehicles.
        Even the cleanest in that environment are too polluting.
      • 5 Months Ago
      How does the cost/benefit of a HFCV bus compare to that of a CNG ICE bus?

      Busses are fairly large. Could you use a natural gas SOFC or have an on board reformer?
        • 5 Months Ago
        The efficiency of a fuel cell is higher than an internal combustion engine, nearly 3x higher for direct Natural Gas SOFC, not quite as high if a reformer is used. That of course results in lower fuel costs.

        There are several other advantages to CNG-SOFC over H2-FC, including lower fuel cost and 3x greater range per tank of fuel (or smaller tanks). Natural gas has 3x better volumetric energy density compared to H2.

        The downside is that fuel cells (CNG or H2) are more expensive to purchase, and it is new technology needing more development and testing before widescale use can begin.