May 14, 2012

Flint MTA readies hydrogen bus for service

The Flint, Mich. Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) took possession of a hydrogen fuel-cell bus and is scheduled to put it into service by the end of May, making Flint the only city in the Midwest with a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle.

Hydrogen as a fuel for the public transit industry will reduce the dependency on fossil fuels such as diesel, is environmentally friendly and  technically feasible, according to officials. The fuel cell bus produces water vapor from its tailpipe and can operate for 250 miles without needing to refuel.

Hydrogen fuel-cell buses contain batteries that can store electricity generated by the hydrogen fuel cell (a device that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce power and water as a by-product) in addition to energy generated during the braking process.

In preparation for placing the bus on the road, a team comprised of MTA employees and Kettering University professor, Dr. Mohamed El-Sayed, have familiarized themselves with bus operator training, preventive maintenance, storage, installation of bus related software and monthly reporting requirements.

The bus will be housed and maintained at the MTA’s first of its kind, alternative fueling station in Grand Blanc. The station will provide hydrogen, propane and natural gas (CNG) for the MTA fleet.

Kettering engineering professors and students will work with the MTA to structure training programs to educate MTA employees and the general public on hybrid vehicle technology, including the operation of a fuel-cell vehicle, bus maintenance and safety with using alternative type fuels.

As part of the hydrogen fuel cell project, MTA plans call for future construction of a solar farm on the site at Maple Road and South Dort Highway. Solar power will assist in generating electricity to produce hydrogen.

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