Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Bus - Overview

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  • Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Bus

  • Getting a jumpstart on zero-emission transportation technology.

    A cleaner transit future is well under way at OCTA. We've just debut a new hydrogen fueling station, the largest transit-operated hydrogen fueling station in the United States, and are introducing 10 hydrogen fuel-cell electric buses. This $22.9 million program follows a pilot program in which OCTA became the first large public transportation agency in Southern California to operate a hydrogen fuel-cell electric bus. This program is designed provide a clear path for protecting our environment.

    New hydrogen fueling station

    OCTA's new hydrogen fueling station will help keep our fleet of zero-emission buses running efficiently over the coming years. Here are some station basics:

    • Largest hydrogen fueling station in nation for transportation
    • Fuel capacity: 18,000 gallons
    • Bus capacity: 40-50 buses, scalable to 100 with additional fuel storage and components

    Efficient hydrogen fuel-cell technology

    The county will immediately see the benefits of these 10 new buses added to our fleet. Here are some bus basics:

    • Current OCTA CNG buses average 3 MPG
    • New hydrogen fuel cell buses average 6 MPG (gas equivalent)
    • Length: 40 feet
    • Capacity: 35 seated, 33 standing
    • Range: 300 miles
    • Zero emissions!

    The basics behind fuel-cell technology

    Unlike buses that run on fossil fuels, a hydrogen fuel cell electric bus is powered by two of earth's most common basic components —oxygen and hydrogen. A fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, heat, and water. Fuel cells are similar to batteries. Both convert the energy produced by a chemical reaction into usable electric power. The fuel cell provides an advantage, however — it will continue to produce electricity as long as fuel (hydrogen) is supplied. Also, every time the coach operator steps on the brakes, it provides extra electrical power to help the bus accelerate and climb steep hills.

    Zero emissions and air quality

    Buses powered by fossil fuel buses emit air pollutants that harm our environment by combining to produce smog and greenhouse gases. Fuel-cell electric vehicles are zero-emission vehicles. When a hydrogen fuel-cell electric bus operates, it emits only water. This means cleaner air, less global warming, and healthier, quieter neighborhoods.

    Safety considerations

    All fuels are flammable and must be handled carefully. However, in many ways, hydrogen is safer to use than conventional fossil fuels. If a leak occurs, lighter-than-air hydrogen gas rises up and disperses rapidly. This non-toxic gas is also safe to breathe.

    Bus Funding

    Existing regulations require transit agencies to transition to a zero-emission bus fleet by 2040. Programs like this ensure these goals are met by transportation agencies, including OCTA. To meet these goals, OCTA applies for various grants to secure funding to implement these programs. Our new $22.9 million hydrogen fueling station and ten fuel-cell electric bus project was grant funded by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Pilot Commercial Deployment Project and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). CARB awarded $12.5 million through the Climate Change Investments (CCI) and SCAQMD awarded $1 million through the Clean Fuels Fund. The Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) organized and led the team to successfully secure the CARB grant. OCTA also provided funding for the project from the SB 1 (Chapter 5, Statutes of 2017) State of Good Repair Program, administered by the California Department of Transportation.

    Special thanks and acknowledgements to our zero-emission transportation partners:

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