Fuel Cell Transit Buses Reach Milestone Ahead of Schedule


The leading fuel cell stacks in the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District's (AC Transit) fleet of 12 fuel cell buses have exceeded industry durability and reliability expectations by nearly two years, according to clean-transportation nonprofit CALSTART.

The fuel cell bus fleet has achieved more than 19,000 hours of operation (equal to about five years) and has had zero failures, CALSTART explains. AC Transit is based in Oakland, Calif., and operates throughout a number of cities in the area.

This improvement in the performance of fuel cell power plants and their commercialization was envisioned and supported by the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) National Fuel Cell Bus Program (NFCBP), which provides research, development and demonstration funding.

The U.S. Department of Energy and FTA had established a 2016 goal for fuel cells to achieve a lifetime of 18,000 hours. As a direct result of FTA funding, says CALSTART, that objective has been met two years ahead of time.Â

Under a contract managed by CALSTART, the FTA's NFCBP accelerated testing of upgraded fuel cells in AC Transit's original fleet of three buses. AC Transit installed these units in three of its fleet of 12 second-generation fuel cell transit buses to continue testing.

US Hybrid provides technical support to maintain the AC Transit fuel cell bus fleet. US Hybrid is also working to develop a next-generation fuel cell with an aim of lowering the cost and further increasing the lifetime in transit operations.

AC Transit's continued demonstration over the past five years indicates that a commercial lifetime target of 25,000 hours is within reach, says CALSTART.Â

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