Fuel Cell Buses A New Clean Tech Toy For GE

There’s been a lot of research and development going on of late in bringing green vehicle technologies to mass transit fleets (i.e. buses). A recent demonstration at Utah State University of wireless charging technology on an electric bus was one such example, and now researchers at GE Global Research are showcasing new battery technology on board a bus tied to a hydrogen fuel cell.

Describing it as a form of hybrid technology that’s helping to potentially reduce costs of clean fuel, zero emission buses, the marriage of GE’s Durathon battery to a hydrogen fuel cell and lithium battery makes for a lot of cutting edge green tech under the hood. Seen as part of a new energy management system, its is believed the end result can be a bus that operates “at full performance with a significantly smaller fuel cell than previously possible,” and something that “has the potential to bring down…costs by up to 50%.”

GE Fuel Cell Bus

GE fuel cell bus (image via GE)

GE’s research team said in 2010 it “first successfully demonstrated a dual battery system on a zero tailpipe emissions hybrid transit bus by pairing a high-energy density sodium battery with a high-power lithium battery.” They feel the Duarthon battery, used in this capacity, is capable of storing large amounts of energy while being optimized to use less power. In the demonstration bus unveiled, the lithium battery focused on the high power acceleration and braking, while the Durathon battery reportedly “provided an even electric power flow to extend the bus range.”

With many of the over 846,000 buses registered in the U.S. traveling less than 100 miles a day, clean technology like this could go a long way in cutting down carbon emissions even further than those cut by leaving your car at home and taking mass transit alone. It is believed that besides buses, this hybrid offering could also be fitted to “delivery trucks and other larger, heavy-duty vehicle fleets.”

GE, in conducting the research for this $13 million project, is working with the Federal Transit Administration and Northeast Advanced Vehicle Consortium, funded under the National Fuel Cell Bus Program.

“For years fuel cells have been talked about as a clean transportation alternative but cost has always been a roadblock to widespread adoption,” said Tim Richter, Systems Engineer in the Electric Propulsion Systems Lab at GE Global Research, in a statement.“With GE’s battery technology and dynamic dual battery management system, we’re starting to push that roadblock aside.”

I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.