The SunLine Transit Agency in Palm Springs, CA, has put the first H2ICE series hybrid transit bus into service .
Built by ISE, the $600,000 hybrid uses Ford’s hydrogen-burning 6.8-liter V-10 to drive a generator that produces electricity for drive motors. The engine sits in a cradle assembly similar in other respects to ISE’s Thundervolt production gasoline-hybrid system, which also uses a Ford V-10 engine.
The hybrid uses twin traction motors with 85 kW continuous power, 170 kW peak. Ultracapacitors store the energy produced by the generator and by regenerative braking. Roof tanks store 58 kg of hydrogen at 350 bar (5,000 psi).
The 40-foot bus has a top speed of 65 mph, a range of more than 230 miles, and accelerates from 0-30 in 15 seconds. Mileage ranges from 4.4 to 6.5 mpg (gasoline gallon equivalent—GGE) depending upon use.
With a hydrogen-fueled engine, the bus excels in reducing operating emissions. The chart to the right (Click to enlarge) compares emissions from standard diesel, standard CNG, and other hybrids to the hydrogen platform.
SunLine Transit has pursued an aggressive clean technology strategy for a number of years, first implementing CNG, then testing hydrogen-CNG (HCNG) and other advanced platforms. In April 2000, SunLine opened a hydrogen generation, storage, fueling, and education facility to demonstrate various approaches to hydrogen production. SunLine produces hydrogen through electrolysis as well as natural gas reforming. Electricity to power the electrolyzer and reformer is provided by the electric grid with some of that power being offset by SunLine’s solar panels and tracking arrays.
SunLine, founded in 1977, is based in Thousand Palms and operates a fleet of 47 buses and 23 para-transit vehicles. Each year, it logs about 4 million miles serving the region.