Hydrogen-Powered Buses Take HyRoad In California

California is now h0me to a brand new hydrogen fueling station, the first publicly accessible station of its kind in the San Francisco Bay Area. Located in Emeryville, the station will provide power to 12 fuel cell municipal buses and up to 20 passenger cars every day. It is just one of two to be designed and installed for AC Transit, which operates transit buses for 13 cities in the East Bay, including Oakland and Berkeley.

Linde North America, the company responsible for the hydrogen vehicle fueling systems, says its design moves from demonstration project to providing a real commercial solution for a real market and real customers. “This station is proving the viability of the hydrogen fuel cell market, for both buses and cars, while offering AC Transit the easiest, fastest and most reliable hydrogen fueling experience available anywhere,” said Pat Murphy, president of Linde North America. Ultimately both stations will be part of AC Transit’s HyRoad project, which seeks to demonstrate the commercial viability of hydrogen fuel cell technology for the public transport industry.

AC Transit Hydrogen Fue Cell Bus

image via AC Transit

For those unfamiliar with the technology, hydrogen fuel cell buses are clean, quiet, electrically propelled vehicles that emit only water vapor from the tailpipe. The HyRoad project began back in 2006, when AC Transit began operating three fuel cell buses, logging over 270,000 miles and carrying over 700,000 passengers, all while achieving significantly greater overall energy efficiency than diesel buses.

Now, the project has expanded to include 12 new, third-generation fuel cell buses that are 5,000 pounds lighter than their predecessors. Each new bus is powered by a 120-kilowatt fuel cell power system, built by UTC Power of Connecticut, and an advanced lithium ion energy storage system by Enerdel of Indiana.

The California Air Resources Board estimates that fuel cell buses will deliver a net reduction of 2.7 pounds of carbon dioxide per mile using hydrogen reformed from methane, and 6.3 pounds per mile using hydrogen derived from solar, wind, or other renewable sources. Each bus in the HyRoad project is expected to travel 36,000 miles per year, reducing carbon emissions by 44 metric tons per year when using methane as a source of fuel, or 103 metric tons using renewables.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog


  • Reply May 10, 2012

    Christopher Miles

    Provided the hydrogen is sourced from renewables, this is a total win. 

    • Reply May 10, 2012

      John Bailo

       In reality, for now, H2’s origin doesn’t have to be any cleaner than gasoline or the electricity for batteries.

      However, what hydrogen does do allow us to remove the pollution generating part of the process to areas where we can control the CO2, and so on, and at the same time have a 100% clean fuel — which can power buses uphill, and for a long periods of time — in the denser areas.

      • Reply May 11, 2012

        Christopher Miles

        Actually- all electricity is not created equally right now- and in some areas Electrics are much more clean than in other areas. 


        Same math goes for hydrogen (for now)

        You won’t get any arguement from me that using a fuel carrier (hydrogen) to power electric motors on each wheel is much more efficient.

        Simply that the C02 reduction math varies by state.

  • Reply September 10, 2014

    Bryan Maldonado

    I turned my old 92 mercury sable into a hybrid and increased my mpg by 33%
    With a bigger fuel cell I think I may be able to bypass petro all together !
    Hears ware I got mine they come with a lifetime warrantee .

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