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SunLine Transit unveils 7th generation hydrogen-fueled bus

The new American Fuel Cell Bus. Click to enlarge.

Canada-based Ballard Power Systems has, together with consortium partners BAE Systems and ElDorado National (California) Inc., successfully deployed a “Buy America”-compliant, fuel cell bus for SunLine Transit Agency in Palm Springs, CA. This marks the 7th generation of hydrogen buses deployed by SunLine, which has pursued an aggressive strategy of implementing clean technologies into its fleet.

“Buy America” certification requires 60% US manufacturing content; the new American Fuel Cell Bus (AFCB) features more than 90% US-made components.

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The FCvelocity-HD6 fuel cell module. Click to enlarge.

The bus uses a Ballard FCvelocity-HD6 fuel cell module built in Lowell, Massachusetts to provide primary power in combination with BAE Systems HybriDrive propulsion and power management systems to propel the Eldorado 40-foot transit bus. The vehicle uses a lithium-ion-based energy storage system that increases battery life and substantially reduces vehicle weight. The battery system, which will augment the fuel cell, is self-monitoring for easy service and reduced maintenance costs.

SunLine Transit Agency will operate the bus, providing public transit and community services to California’s Coachella Valley.

Based on an automotive fuel cell stack, the FCvelocity-HD6 fuel cell module is designed for integration into bus applications. The heavy-duty power module features a control unit that can interface with a system controller, making it a plug and play product for any fuel cell or hybrid fuel cell bus platform. The 6th generation module also offers advances in durability, power density and fuel efficiency.

The module comes in 75 kW and 150 kW configurations, with DC voltage of 230 – 365V and 465 – 730V, respectively. Maximum current is 300A for each.

This bus was developed under the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) National Fuel Cell Bus Program, which facilitates the development of commercially viable fuel cell bus technologies and related infrastructure for deployment in revenue service.

CALSTART administered the FTA project. Cost share funds were also provided by BAE Systems, the California Air Resources Board, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), ElDorado National and SunLine Transit Agency.

Ballard’s Lowell, MA facility will continue to manufacture the FCvelocity-HD6 fuel cell power modules for the US market. The module delivers enhanced durability at a reduced cost, with improved efficiency and a 12,000 hour/five year warranty.

Hydrogen fueling for buses and cars is produced and dispensed at SunLine; SunLine’s hydrogen dispensing system is undergoing a Type Evaluation Program by California’s Division of Measurement Standards that may establish SunLine as the first transit commercial public fueling site for hydrogen.



Buses and large trailer trucks may be well suited for hydrogen cells power system where extra size/weight is not so critical. The extra initial cost could be offset with other considerations such as clean air operation, no imported fossil fuel, etc.


True Harvey. And the fixed route of bus fleets means refueling is less an issue. If these drive systems can replace diesel lift power with FCs and H2 - we wish them well. Ending foreign oil imports ($450B last year)is a primary economic goal.


Misery for chris m, fuelcells and hydrogen is still alive and well. they are almost ready for normal commercialisation. The more they mess with hydrogen the easiest and cheapest solutions they got.


I wish they would specify the cost of each level of these fuel cells. It would be much easier to get a perspective on how far along they are.

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