Management & Operations

Fuel cell partnership receives government funding

Posted on May 1, 2001

The ThunderPower fuel cell bus partnership received $740,000 in government funding to develop and demonstrate a transit bus powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and a hybrid-electric drive system. The partnership, made up of Thor Industries Inc. and ISE Research Corp. in San Diego, Calif., will develop a high performance, low cost, zero emission bus. A 60 kilowatt fuel cell supplied by International Fuel Cells will convert hydrogen fuel into electrical motive power provided to a Siemens electric motor. In the hybrid system, the fuel cell will be combined with a deep cycle battery pack to maximize the energy efficiency of the system and enable the use of a smaller, less expensive fuel cell. The batteries will support the peak loads of the drive system and will be able to recapture a substantial amount of energy through regenerative braking. The drive configuration will be integrated into a 30-foot low-floor ElDorado transit bus. Later this year, the bus will be placed into trial service at SunLine Transit in Thousand Palms, Calif. ThunderPower plans to market the bus commercially within the next year. Funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) was facilitated by the Sacramento (Calif.) Electric Transportation Consortium and WestStart/ CALSTART under the DOT Advanced Vehicle Program. The funding will augment the investment of more than $1 million by the ThunderPower partners.

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