Calif.’s Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) unveiled its first zero-emission hydrogen fuel-cell bus at an event on Monday as part of a continuing effort to expand and improve an eco-friendly transportation system.
The new bus — wrapped with a mural of California poppies — is part of a two-year demonstration project to complement OCTA’s existing fleet. OCTA currently has approximately 550 buses, of which 97% run on clean-burning natural gas. By the end of this year, 100% of OCTA buses will run on natural gas.
Funding for the project was provided by the Federal Transit Administration under the National Fuel Cell Bus Program. The program includes testing and demonstration of fuel cell bus technology.
Hydrogen fuel-cell-electric buses are powered by oxygen and hydrogen. These two components are combined to produce electricity, heat and water. The new bus uses fuel cells to convert chemical energy stored by hydrogen fuel into electricity. Fuel-cell-electric vehicles are zero-emission vehicles. As the fuel-cell-electric bus operates, it will emit only water, creating cleaner air and a healthier environment.
“As a large urban operator in Southern California, OCTA is setting a strong example for a public agency striving to make positive impacts on the environment,” said Darrell Johnson, OCTA’s CEO. “We are proactive in our efforts to join the cutting-edge community of hydrogen-fueled transportation.”
OCTA will utilize the hydrogen fueling station at the University of California Irvine, which deployed its first fuel cell-powered bus in April 2015.
At Monday’s unveiling of the new bus, OCTA officials were joined by representatives from several state congressional offices and by representatives from partnering agencies and transportation companies. They included: Federal Transit Administration, Center for Transportation and the Environment, Ballard Power Systems, ENC and BAE Systems.