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GE Research, Ballard, A123Systems in $13-Million Partnership to Develop a Battery-Dominant, Hybrid Fuel-Cell Bus

GE Global Research is in a $13-million research partnership with Ballard Power Systems, A123 Systems and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to develop a lightweight, battery-dominant zero-emissions hybrid fuel-cell bus. The FTA, through the Northeast Advanced Vehicle Consortium, is contributing almost $7 million toward the project. (Earlier post.)

The project will be led by GE’s Global Research Center in Niskayuna (NY), where researchers can leverage a history in hybrid vehicles and expertise in battery chemistry.

Advancements in hybrid propulsion systems and battery chemistry offer tremendous promise for enabling cleaner, more affordable transportation alternatives that will reduce reliance on fossil fuels and promote a cleaner, healthier environment. At Global Research, we will be leveraging nearly three decades of experience in hybrid systems and battery chemistry research to help pave the way to commercialization.

—Mark Little, Senior Vice President and Director of GE Global Research

The bus will use a 90kW version of Ballard’s heavy-duty fuel-cell module (HD6) combined with ultracapacitors or lithium-ion batteries as energy storage devices. The bus is to be emissions-free, have a range of 200 miles with accessories operating, and offer an improved fuel-cell life and cost. The research partnership will focus on reducing fuel-cell power requirements and improving energy storage technologies, which would help to increase the commercial viability of the technology.

Ballard is also supplying the fuel cells in another one of the FTA fuel-cell bus projects—180kW versions of the HD6 module in two 40-foot fuel cell hybrid buses that will operate in revenue service in the Washington DC area as part of the WMATA fleet.



Is 200 miles a usefull range for a bus? From the description it sounds like the fuel cell is there as a trickle charger for the batteries but 90kW sounds like more that just a trickle. Ultracaps make great sense in a vehicle as heavy as a bus.


"The Equinox Fuel Cell is powered by a fourth-generation, 93kW fuel-cell stack."

GM is using 93kW in a medium sized crossover SUV. So 90kW in a bus makes for a very battery dominant design.


It won't be able to handle long steep hills at a decent speed for the entire hill, but for everything else it makes sense to have the primary power plant deliver an amount suitable for sustained high speed cruising, in the fuel cell's case for cost, and in the ICE's case for efficiency.

James White

I would love to see A123 develop a larger format battery for hybrids. 60 larger batteries instead of 600 small ones would be much better. The small cells they make are great for the DeWalt cordless tools, but it takes too many of them to be practical in a hybrid vehicle. It can be done, but the battery management system is more involved for the smaller cells.


I presume this design was for an around town bus and not for long climbs to the mountains.


Wouldn't it be better if they used a123systems lightweight, potent and safe batteries and attached it to a engine rather then a fuelcell?
Any ideas on the efficiency, range differences between the two?

Fta Crock

Does the FTA or any other US government agency help renewable energy sources that is not based on fossil fuels like Fuel Cells.
For example nanotechnology batteries, solar stations for non-fuelcell technologies?


An SOFC in a bus would be a good design. You could run it on CNG and have it supply heat to the buildings and electric for the grid at night while it is refueling. SOFCs like to run continuously to reduce thermal cycling and you can run them at 10% of maximum output with good efficiency. This would be a V2G design with cogeneration of heat for the bus depot building. SOFCs with turbines can be 50% efficient and very clean.

Cheryl Ho

DME developments in China today!!
Since DME has an advantage of decomposition at lower temperature than methane and LPG, R&D for hydrogen source for fuel cell has been carried out.

If you would like to know more on the latest DME developments, join us at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:

DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
available and offer exciting potential of DME as a
chemical feedstock
By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
that DME/ Methanol can play a large energy supply role
By: International Finance Corporation

For more information:

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