Flint, Mich.'s Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) unveiled the launch of a Proterra hydrogen fuel cell vehicle pilot program. Part of the year-long study will be to see how the bus tests in a cold environment, as it has only been run in warmer climates, according to MTA officials.
The bus, which seats 35 passengers, will be tested on different routes in the city of Flint. Part of the study includes checking the vehicle’s fuel consumption as well. The vehicle is highly technical and will be monitored by an on-site Proterra mechanic.
Usage of the bus is the result of a collaborative partnership under the National Fuel Cell Bus Program, a Federal Transit Administration program aimed at energizing the transit industry by investing in zero-emission hydrogen fuel-cell buses.
Built on top of Proterra’s standard electric recharge technology, the onboard batteries keep the bus running throughout the service day. Each fuel cell system can independently power the bus on a majority of transit routes, providing additional system reliability. The hydrogen fuel used is produced through steam reforming natural gas. One kilogram of hydrogen has an energy content of 116,000 BTU, equivalent to one gallon of gas.
This hydrogen source can have a well-to-pump energy efficiency of 75 percent. Combined with a bus efficiency approaching 50 percent, the bus uses the energy in natural gas more efficiently than a conventional bus running on natural gas.
The vehicle's top speed is 55 mph, and with the battery and hydrogen has a range of 280 miles. The range using the battery is 30 miles.