|The University of Delaware hydrogen fuel cell hybrid bus.|
Researchers at the University of Delaware (UD) unveiled a series-hybrid hydrogen fuel cell bus developed in partnership with a consortium that includes EBus, Ballard Power Systems, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Air Liquide Advanced Technologies US, and the Delaware Transit Corp.
EBus adapted its existing 22-foot, 22-passenger chassis and electric drive system to use a Ballard 19 kW Mark9 SSL fuel cell stack as a range extender for a 60 kWh Ni-Cd battery pack. The bus has twin 5,000 psi tanks on its roof that can store 16 kg of hydrogen and has an estimated range of 200 miles.
EPRI provided expertise and software to model and simulate various sub-systems of the vehicle. Air Liquide provided their climate-controlled, high-bay facility to house the bus, and installed a hydrogen station next to the high-bay for refueling the bus.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first fuel cell powered bus that has such a small stack. If we can demonstrate that it can handle the urban transit drive cycle, it will take us one step closer to commercialization.—Suresh Advani, George W. Laird Professor of Mechanical Engineering, UD
The fuel cell activates when the battery State of Charge drops below 60%, according to Professor Ajay Prasad. The University of Delaware team will acquire data continuously from all the sensors integrated into the bus during transit operation on campus, including pressure, temperature, humidity, gas and coolant flow rate. The researchers have the flexibility to modify the control algorithm based on the data and to optimize the settings for maximizing performance and stack life.
Initially, the bus will operate on the University campus. Subsequently, UD will collaborate with Delaware Transit Corp. to perform demonstrations to the general public outside of the University.
Plans are already in place for a second, larger, bus, employing the same consortium of companies, including EBus, according to Professor Prasad.
The hydrogen fuel cell bus project is supported by a $1.7 million grant from the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration, matched by private financing from companies working in partnership with the University.