The Birmingham Fuel Cell Bus Demonstration project is part of the National Fuel Cell Bus Program, which is funded by the Federal Transit Administration.
Air Liquide has over 10 years’ experience worldwide in supplying bus and vehicle hydrogen refuelling systems. Some two years ago, Air Liquide signed a 10-year contract to provide hydrogen and fuelling infrastructure support for 20 hydrogen-powered buses, the largest fuel cell bus fleet in the world, in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler and Vancouver, Canada.
Atlanta-based CTE, a non-profit organisation that specialises in bringing clean transportation technologies to market, is managing the Birmingham Fuel Cell Bus Demonstration. Air Liquide joins an experienced team that includes EVAmerica, which specialises in the design, development, and manufacturing of electric and hybrid-electric medium to heavy-duty vehicles, who will design and integrate the bus. The fuel cell power module is being provided by Ballard Power Systems.
The bus will be operated in regular service by the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Agency (BJCTA). The University of Alabama at Birmingham will be responsible for data acquisition and analysis, the results of which will be published when the demonstration is complete.
‘This project will give Birmingham and the surrounding communities a firsthand look at the new clean technologies that are being developed and introduced to mass transit,' says Lee Jackson, Director of Maintenance at BJCTA. 'The project will also allow the BJCTA to step forward as a leader in the Southeast as a test facility for the new technology.’
The hydrogen fuelling system will meet all of CTE’s operational and safety requirements, and will provide on average about 20 kg per day of hydrogen throughout the 24-month demonstration period, totaling about 12 500 kg of hydrogen. The fuelling station will feature automated 350 bar (5000 psi) hydrogen dispensing at 1 kg per minute, allowing operators to fuel the bus quickly.
‘Air Liquide has a proven track record of developing hydrogen fuelling stations around the world,’ says CTE technology development project manager Erik Bigelow, who is coordinating the Birmingham project. ‘We are excited to work with them to bring the first hydrogen infrastructure to Birmingham.’
‘Hydrogen fuel cell technology is a solution that is both economic and sustainable for mass transit systems due to the size of public bus fleets, fuel volume requirements, and the inherent ability to use a centralised fuelling system,’ adds Mark Lostak, President of Air Liquide Industrial US LP.
‘This initiative illustrates the logical progression toward the use of hydrogen fuel cells in public transportation vehicles,’ continues Lostak. ‘As we move towards fuelling larger bus fleets, we look forward to this technology further demonstrating itself as a cost-competitive and environmentally beneficial solution for public transit.’