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AC Transit’s Solar-Boosted Hydrogen

April 11, 2012 in Hydrogen by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

“This isn’t just rain, it’s fuel for more buses,” Proton Onsite chairman Tom Sullivan said April 10 as Oakland’s AC Transit dedicated a hydrogen fueling station in Emeryville, Calif. that will help support a dozen fuel cell buses and as many as 20 hydrogen cars per day.

Taking the '€˜HyRoad,'€™ Oakland'€™s AC Transit has dedicated a hydrogen fueling station in Emeryville, Calif. that will help support a dozen fuel cell buses and as many as 20 hydrogen cars per day. The station features Linde compression and delivery equipment capable of both 5,000- and 10,000-psi fueling, using hydrogen produced via a 510-kilowatt DC solar photovoltaic-powered Proton OnSite electrolyzer. A sister station is planned for next year in Oakland.

Proton Onsite supplied the electrolyzer, to be driven in part by a 510-kilowatt DC solar photovoltaic rig by Cupertino Electric. The Proton Onsite unit will supply as much as 65 kilograms of hydrogen per day to Linde compression and delivery equipment capable of both 5,000- and 10,000-psi fueling.

The Proton Onsite hydrogen should be adequate for about one third of the fuel needed for the six zero-emission buses that will routinely fuel at the Emeryville location, says Jaimie Levin, director of environmental technology and fuel cell program manager at AC Transit.

‘Practical, Ready and Available’

The Emeryville facility, jewel of the agency’s “HyRoad” zero-emission transportation initiative, represents “a watershed for clean fuel,” said Linde North America president Pat Murphy.

It also represents the first U.S. use of Linde’s high-throughput ionic compression technology. AC Transit’s hydrogen buses will be able to fuel at rates up to 5 kilograms per minute – “a time comparable to refueling diesel buses,” AC says.

“The promise of hydrogen is real,” Murphy said. The technology enabling fuel cell buses has come “out of the laboratories and workshops and into the real world.

Consumers too as AC Transit has dedicated a public-access hydrogen fueling station in Emeryville, Calif.

“This is not a science project,” Murphy said.

Linde trucks liquid hydrogen from Praxair in Los Angeles to the Emeryville facility, Levin says.

“Zero-emission technologies are practical, ready and available for the public,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in San Francisco.

UTC Fuel Cells Powering Siemens Drives

On display at the Emeryville event were fuel cell passenger cars by Toyota, Mercedes, Chevrolet and Nissan.

AC Transit operates twelve 40-foot, series hybrid-electric, zero-emission fuel cell buses built by Belgium’s Van Hool, each with a PureMotion brand 120-kilowatt UTC Power fuel cell system powering a Siemens Elfa driveline. The buses can carry 40 kilograms of hydrogen each at 5,000 psi (350 bar) in eight lightweight carbon fiber-on-aluminum Type III fuel cylinders from Canada’s Dynetek Industries.

The buses have logged more than 525,000 miles and carried more than 1.7 million passengers, said Leslie Rogers, Region 9 Federal Transit Administration boss.

“They embed the future of transportation technology,” said UTC power transportation fuel cells manager Dana Kaplinski. She noted in Emeryville that one of the fuel cell units is approaching 12,000 hours in service – and that a new generation of fuel cell is in development.

“Buses will create demand and increase visibility,” said Sunita Satyapal, fuel cell technologies program manager with the U.S. Department of Energy.

Most of the speakers at the Emeryville event lauded Levin’s efforts: his drive and organizational talents have kept the agency’s fuel cell bus efforts on track for more than a decade. AC Transit director Greg Harper praised Levin for “visionary interconnectedness.”

A sister station is to open next year in Oakland.

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