New hydrogen fuel bus is coming to Hawaii

June 25, 2014 0 By Alicia Moore

Hydrogen Fuel - Public Bus

U.S. Hybrid wins contract from Hawaii’s Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies

The Hawaii Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies has announced that it has awarded a contract to U.S. Hydbrid. The $707,550 contract involves the development of a hybrid fuel cell, battery-powered bus that will operate on the Big Island. The bus is meant to hold 25 passengers and is expected to begin operation in 2015. It will be the first bus powered by hydrogen fuel to operate in Hawaii. The state is currently home to several clean transportation projects, but none of these projects have yet produced a vehicle that is available for public use.

New bus to be powered by fuel cell and battery system

The fuel cell and battery used for the bus will power the vehicle’s power train, air conditioner, and auxiliary electrical systems. The battery itself will receive electrical charge from the vehicle’s brakes, while the fuel cell will generate electrical power through the consumption of hydrogen. The bus already has strong support from the Big Island’s Mayor, Billy Kenoi, whom notes that the bus represents the county’s first major step toward making use of its renewable energy resources and embracing clean transportation.

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Hydrogen continues to win favor in the transportation realm

Hydrogen fuel cells have become quite attractive in the transportation sector, especially when it comes to public transit. These energy systems are capable of producing large amounts of electrical power, but they are also notoriously expensive. Typical fuel cells make use of platinum, which comprises their catalyst and allows them to operate as intended. The high cost of fuel cells has limited their appeal in terms of public transportation, as most governments are unwilling to pay exorbitant amounts of money on singular fuel cell systems.

Fuel cells are becoming less expensive thanks to technological advances

Though fuel cells are expensive, their overall cost has been on the decline for several years. New advances in fuel cell technology has reduced the need for platinum within these energy systems, making them less expensive. The hydrogen that these energy systems use to generate electricity is also becoming less expensive to produce, further adding to the attraction of fuel cells.