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Reaction to hydrogen buses trial

A report has been published by the US Federal Transit Administration featuring summaries of interviews with participants in the hydrogen powered buses trails that took place from 2002 to 2007 around the world. The results were encouraging with most demonstrations reporting better than expected performance as well as strong passenger acceptance. It was outlined that the buses performed well in a wide range of operating conditions including on hilly and flat terrain as well as in hot and cold temperatures. There were no major safety issues over millions of miles of vehicle service and most participants preferred fuel cell buses to compressed natural gas or diesel due to a smoother ride and the ability to move well in traffic. Some participants noted that fuel cell bus drivers were less tired at the end of their shifts primarily due to the reduction in noise, while 75 per cent of those surveyed reported a quieter ride and 63 per cent reported a smoother ride compared to conventional buses. Importantly the participants found that it was easy to incorporate the buses into revenue service with only some minor accommodation needed for increased vehicle weight and height, as well as longer fuelling times. Maintenance was deemed "not as challenging as expected". Some key challenges were outlined however, including vehicle range with fuel cell buses typically needing to refuel after about 200km; fuel cell durability - although this was deemed higher than expected; energy storage with some batteries performing below expectation and deployment sites reporting frequent battery system troubles; and infrastructure reliability with most participants believing that there would need to be significant advancements for fuel cell buses to be commercialised. There were also some concerns over fuelling times. Participants suggested that the governments should invest in hydrogen highways and other linked hydrogen infrastructure to maximise the environmental benefits of hydrogen buses.

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Paul Lucas

Filed under: Latest News, Green cars, Hydrogen fuel

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