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W.A. Summers


The H2Fuel Bus is the world`s first hybrid hydrogen electric transit bus. It was developed through a public/private partnership involving several leading technology and industrial organizations in the Southeast, with primary funding and program management provided by the Department of Energy. The primary goals of the project are to gain valuable information on the technical readiness and economic viability of hydrogen buses and to enhance the public awareness and acceptance of emerging hydrogen technologies. The bus has been operated by the transit agency in Augusta, Georgia since April, 1997. It employs a hybrid IC engine/battery/electric drive system, with onboard hydrogen fuel storage based on the use of metal hydrides. Initial operating results have demonstrated an overall energy efficiency (miles per Btu) of twice that of a similar diesel-fueled bus and an operating range twice that of an all-battery powered electric bus. Tailpipe emissions are negligible, with NOx less than 0.2 ppm. Permitting, liability and insurance issues were addressed on the basis of extensive risk assessment and safety analyses, with the inherent safety characteristic of metal hydride storage playing a major role in minimizing these concerns. Future plans for the bus include continued transit operation and use as a national testbed, with potential modifications to demonstrate other hydrogen technologies, including fuel cells.