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The layout of the fuel cell-ultracapacitor hybrid bus

Hydrogenics has tapped American Superconductor Corporation as the provider for power electronic converters for use in the propulsion system of a 40-foot fuel cell-ultracapacitor hybrid transit bus being developed for demonstration in Canada.

The fuel cell bus demonstration project, partly funded by Natural Resources Canada, was announced at the end of 2003, and was originally due to be complete this year. Current timing projects completion early in 2006. The bus will be the first in Canada to use a hybrid combination of fuel cells and ultracapacitors. The bus will also feature Hydrogenics’ vehicle-to-grid capabilities.

Rather than use a single fuel cell power source, Hydrogenics is using an array of three HyPM 65-kW stacks, each of which will use an American Superconductor PM1000 power converter.

The converters regulate the output power for the electric drive system, enabling it to operate over the fluctuating output voltage range of the fuel cell generators and will be a key element in optimizing the energy management for the propulsion system. The operation of the PM1000 power converters will be coordinated with Hydrogenics’ proprietary system controller through high speed Controlled Area Network (CAN) communications.

The bus will also demonstrate Hydrogenics’ proprietary vehicle-to-grid technology. This vehicle-to-grid capability enables a vehicle’s power supply to provide off-board power and power to the electrical grid while the vehicle is sitting idle. The company has been developing technology around the concept of using vehicles as a source of distributed power and has been aggregating key intellectual property in this area.

Maxwell ultracapacitors provide energy storage for peaking demands and regenerative braking. Other partners in the project include New Flyer Industries (bus manufacturer); Dynetek (storage); ISE Research (electric and hybrid drive systems); and the Province of Manitoba, where the bus will be shown (Winnipeg).

ISE has worked with Maxwell on other hybrid bus applications using ultracapacitors. Hydrogenics and Maxwell struck a four-year partnership in 2004 to collaborate on integrating Maxwell’s ultracapacitors into Hydrogenics’ fuel cell power systems.


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