As part of the California Climate Investments and Low Carbon Transportation Investments Program, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) funded the Fuel Cell Electric Bus Commercialization Consortium to advance the development of fuel cell technology in heavy-duty vehicle applications. Fuel cells operate by combining hydrogen fuel with oxygen from ambient air to generate electricity onboard a vehicle. This process acts as a key mechanism for extending the range of a zero-emission vehicle. Initially, this project intended to demonstrate five key objectives of fuel cell applications: validate vehicle performance, reduce cost, rapidly refuel, gain industry support, and elicit the attention of the trucking industry. Two additional objectives were added to the list, including extended range and reduced curb and axle weight to increase the passenger carrying capacity.
The Center for Transportation and the Environment led the project, which began in February 2017. New Flyer manufactured 10 XHE40 fuel cell electric buses for Alameda- Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) in Emeryville, CA, and 10 buses of the same model for Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) in Santa Ana, CA. Messer completed an upgrade to the hydrogen refueling station at AC Transit while Air Products and Trillium provided a fueling solution at OCTA. The buses began operating in regular revenue service in January 2020 at AC Transit and February 2020 at OCTA. In addition to validating vehicle performance compared to existing technologies, this project served to eliminate harmful emissions from the respective communities.
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