Hydrogen fuel cells continue to show their viability in the world of transportation. UTC Power, a leading manufacturer of fuel cells and developer of their associated technologies, has set a new performance record with their new hydrogen-powered buses in Oakland, California. The buses were first introduced into the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit system in 2006 and 2007 and have since garnered acclaim for their eco-friendly operation and fuel efficiency. In 2010, 16 more buses were added to Oakland’s fleet, which has now carried UTC to the height of fuel cell performance.
UTC’s hydrogen-powered buses now account for more than 10,000 hours of operation. While the feat is certainly impressive, it is made even more monumental by the fact that each bus is still operating using its original fuel cell. This display of durability and efficiency has placated concerns regarding the viability of fuel cells.
The fuels cells used by the buses are not conventional models. These use a proton exchange membrane as a catalyst instead of the platinum variety at use in other models. The new catalyst lowers the overall cost of manufacturing the fuel cells while allowing the units to perform as well, if not better, than their more expensive counterparts. The new performance record set by UTC shows that the proton exchange membrane is a suitable alternative to the conventional use of platinum.
Given the robust success UTC has experienced with their fleet of fuel cell buses, more cities may soon clamor for similar energy units to support their public transportation needs.