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US Hybrid awarded contract to deliver plug-in fuel cell shuttle bus to Hawaii County Mass Transit Agency

US Hybrid Fuel Cell Shuttle Bus
The hydrogen shuttle bus. Click to enlarge.

California-based US Hybrid Corporation has been awarded a contract by the Hawaii Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies (HCATT) for the design, integration and delivery of its H2Ride Fuel Cell Plug-In Shuttle Bus for operation by the County of Hawaii Mass Transit Agency’s (MTA) HELE-ON Big Island bus service. The project is funded by the State of Hawaii and Office of Naval Research via the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI).

Integrated at US Hybrid’s Honolulu facility, the 25-passenger shuttle bus utilizes a 30 kW fuel cell fueled by a 20 kg hydrogen storage and delivery system. The fuel cell and 28 kWh lithium-ion battery pack power the vehicle’s 200 kW powertrain, air conditioning, and auxiliary systems. Onboard batteries are recharged by regenerative braking as well as grid charging. The US Hybrid fuel cell, powertrain, and vehicle controller optimizes power delivered by the energy storage and fuel cell power plant.

Such shuttle buses have been in operation in Hawaii at the Air Force’s Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The new H2Ride Fuel Cell Plug-In Shuttle Bus is scheduled for deployment with Hawaii MTA in early 2015.

A version of the hydrogen plug-in hybrid shuttle bus, presented at SAE 2014 Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium. Click to enlarge.

US Hybrid Corporation, a global supplier of medium- and heavy-duty electric and hybrid powertrain power conversion components, executed a global licensing agreement with United Technologies Corporation (UTC) in January of this year to commercialize UTC’s proven Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell technologies. (Earlier post.)

US Hybrid has been a key supplier of balance-of-plant components such as cathode air blowers, DI pumps and power converters to UTC and other fuel cell suppliers for over a decade. US Hybrid thus added fuel cell production to its core competencies of system design, integration and operation of fuel cell buses, trucks, military and specialty vehicles, as well as supporting fuel cells with component electronics.

Founded in 1999, US Hybrid Corporation specializes in the design and manufacture of integrated power conversion components for fuel cell, electric, and hybrid medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, as well as for renewable energy generation and storage. US Hybrid offers comprehensive engineering expertise and experience in vehicle powertrains and components, including DC-DC converters, energy management systems, high-performance AC motors, and controllers.

Managed by HTDC, HCATT has organized public/private partnerships between the federal government and private industry to develop advanced low emission and zero emission vehicles centered on electric drive technologies. Additionally, HCATT has entered into a partnership with the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to introduce zero emission, hydrogen fuel cell/battery powered hybrid electric buses into the park to support environmentally friendly tours for the millions of annual visitors to the park.

The Hawaii Natural Energy Institute is an organized research unit of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) of the University of Hawaii at Mānoa (UHM). The Institute performs research, conducts testing and evaluation, and manages public-private partnerships across a broad range of renewable and enabling technologies to reduce the State of Hawaii’s dependence on fossil fuel for the benefit of the citizens of Hawaii.



Volcano National Park Hydrogen bus sounds like a vacation adventure.


So throw away the fuel cell and tank, add more batteries and a fast charger and you have a reliable EV.


A 40 foot FC bus weighing 35,000 pounds carrying 37 people gets 8 miles per kilogram at Sunline. This bus should be able to get 10-12 miles per kilo with 20 kilos, so that is a 200 mile range. They would have to carry about 2000 pounds of batteries and would still not get the range that this would.

Roger Pham


The 20 kg of H2 contains 660 kWh of energy, and would weigh 333-400 lbs when using carbon fiber tank at 700 bar. The long and slender tanks have higher capacity per wt. unit than a short and fat tank. The 30 kW fuel cell stack, if at 2kW/kg, would weigh only 15 kg, or 33 lbs. Toyota's FC stack is even more powerful and has 3kW/kg specific power.

By comparison, 660 kWh of battery at 100 Wh/kg at pack level would weigh 6600 lbs, or 15x more. Clearly, H2 and FC are the equivalent of 15-15-0 battery, or 15x the energy density of current batteries, 15x cheaper, and is available in 0 year, or NOW. The 24-kWh battery pack would give all the power needed for acceleration and very high % of braking energy recuperation. A perfect combination of H2-FC-battery hybrid that can be recharged in minutes and can travel for hundreds of miles.


600 kWh time 40% efficient is 240 kWh which would be closer to 3000 pounds and never recharge in the short time it takes to refill the tanks.


Bůsbaar is the answer to hydrogen's vaunted rapid-fueling capability.

I would love to see Bůsbaar and hydrogen competing head-to-head, for operating cost and everything else.  It is high time this was done somewhere.


Interesting and valuable project E-P.

However, a Busbaar at every other city bus stop, to pick up very short quick charges, may be practical on many city bus routes but not necessarily so for shuttle bus routes, where extended range, with a lot more batteries or combined smaller batteries + FC, may be a better solution?

Roger Pham

Indeed, a Busbaar would also be valuable here, due to the presence of the 28-kWh battery pack. Assuming 1.5 miles/kWh, this can allow the bus to travel about 40 miles between charge. So, while waiting for passenger at the terminals, the bus can get fast-charged and be ready for the next trip. Still, the presence of the H2-FC system is a good way to avoid range anxiety, especially in peak tourist season in which the bus cannot stop long enough to get adequate charge.


As traffic jams are getting longer and more often, many e-buses could run out of juice on very hot and very cold days and/or on rainy and snowy days. Stranded e-buses could compound traffic jams and make them worse.

It may be a good idea for e-buses to have a small on-board power generating source to crawl out of traffic and keep passengers within the comfort zone.

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