Champaign — The latest buses in the Champaign Urbanamas Transit District are clean. In fact, it’s so clean that the water vapor coming out of the tailpipe (yes, water vapor) is enough to drink.
“I was going to have a cup underneath where the water came out and have a drink as a demonstration,” said Karl Gunnat, managing director of MTD, Wednesday. “The problem is that it comes out in such a fine fog, it’s not practical to do it.”
MTD has added two fully powered buses to the fleet that are powered by electricity generated by hydrogen fuel cells.
This is the first transportation system in Illinois, and hydrogen fuel cell buses collide with roads in one of six in the United States. And these two are 60 feet long, the largest of them.
But that’s not all. MTD is also finishing its own hydrogen production station opposite the headquarters and is expected to be completed in 2022.
US Senator Dick Durbin, Illinois Congressman, Rodney Davis, Republican Taylorville and others will join MTD staff at a district maintenance facility in Urbana this morning to promote the new technology at the event. It is called “riding the sunshine”.
Armed with 5,500 solar panels, the station separates hydrogen from water and generates electricity to fuel buses via 100% renewable energy.
Basically, when the facility is completed, the bus will operate with zero emissions. No fossil fuel required.
“Zero-emission buses are the focus of attention in the transportation industry around the world, but they are quite important in the United States,” says Gnadt.
About 10 years ago, many industry leaders moved to battery-powered buses, the “Tesla bus version.” About 97% of MTD buses are hybrid diesel / electric models like the Prius.
While significantly reducing emissions, battery-powered buses suffer from short distances (usually less than one-third of diesel buses) and six hours of charging time, Gnadt said.
“We are aiming for zero emissions, but we want our routes and schedules to meet the needs of the community, not the needs of the vehicle,” says Gnadt. “Hydrogen electricity does that.”
MTD has consulted with several other agencies that have adopted hydrogen electric buses. There is one in Flint, Michigan, and several models in Canton, Ohio. AC Transit in Oakland, California has been operating hydrogen fuel cell buses since 2000.
“They love them and want to buy more,” Gnadt said.
Gnadt said he had boarded the hydrogen bus several times, but his experience was basically indistinguishable from a regular drive. There are also some benefits.
“It’s smoother and quieter than a regular diesel bus,” says Gnadt.
The first two of MTD’s hydrogen models are projected to save a total of 100,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year compared to the pure diesel model being replaced. (There are only four diesel buses left in the area with 114 vehicles).
And these new buses are just pilot programs. Jane Sullivan, MTD Grant and Government Director, said the hydrogen production station needs to generate enough fuel to power 12 vehicles.
“We will start expanding that fleet in the next few years,” said Gnadt.
Gnadt knows that technology is too good to be true. He lights up when explaining the internal workings of the latest models in his department.
“It’s not a technology like Star Trek, but it’s a technology that science fiction wrote about 30 or 40 years ago,” Gnadt said.
Through a process called “electrolysis,” the solar panels at the production station generate electricity, breaking down the water on site into hydrogen and oxygen. Oxygen is released and gaseous hydrogen is compressed and placed in a storage tank.
The hydrogen fuel dispenser in the lot pumps hydrogen from the facility’s tank to the tank above the bus. The fuel cell then extracts hydrogen and recombines it with oxygen in the air to generate the energy that powers the battery used by the bus.
(Hydrogen production stations will drain from the grid until the facility is completed).
“It wasn’t cheap”
The two hydrogen-based buses and the facilities set up to power them have raised $ 20.8 million in state, federal, and local funding.
About 63% of that comes from state funding. $ 4.54 million from the Illinois Reconstruction Program to help build solar panels, and $ 8.52 million from the Downstate Support Program to fund hydrogen stations, bus construction, and facility remodeling.
Another $ 5.67 million from the Federal Public Transport Authority’s Low or No Emissions Program and Section 5307 Urbanized Area Formula Program also helped build hydrogen stations, buses, and refurbish facilities, leaving the remaining $ 2.06 million in locals. Funds were spent on solar arrays and additional consulting. Engineering costs.
“It wasn’t cheap to do this, but the long-term benefits are much higher than battery-powered electric buses,” Gnadt said.
It is estimated that one bus can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 135 tonnes per year.
Also, according to MTD, when the outside temperature is low, the exhaust heat from the fuel cell is used to keep the inside of the car warm.
The bus arrived at the property in June. Prior to the announcement this month, MTS had to train operators on how to operate them and how to build new hydrogen fuel stations.
The Early Adopter AC Transit maintenance department provided useful advice to CU facility crew. Beyond the high voltage work of diesel electric models that MTD has been doing since 2009, this is a whole new field.
By next year, when the remaining diesel buses are phased out, MTD is set to have a completely low emission fleet.
This is the next step in the long-term sustainability goals of government agencies.
“Public transport has always benefited from adding cars from the road, so this type of mode shift is one of the biggest ways to benefit the environment,” says Gnadt. “The fewer cars that burn fossil fuels on the road, the better the community and the better the world.
“This is like the ultimate expression of that goal of being as environmentally positive as possible.”
MTD Announces Hydrogen Driven Bus: “Ultimate Expression of Sustainability” | Transportation
Source link MTD Announces Hydrogen Driven Bus: “Ultimate Expression of Sustainability” | Transportation