. . . Just two years ago, the FCEB power plant set an international record for 20,000 hours of continuous operation. AC Transit
says that with each accomplishment, it has advanced alternative fuel vehicles by both proving the durability of hydrogen fuel cell in daily revenue service and remaining at least one year ahead of federal recommendations.
The US Department of Energy and Federal Transit
Administration established performance metrics and life expectancy for FCEBs. Traditionally, a public transit
buses life expectancy is measured in terms of the number of miles on its diesel engine. A diesel engine’s life expectancy is 6 years or 250,000 miles before overhaul. The life expectancy of the fuel cell power plant is measured in terms of hours. Once AC Transit
’s FCEB #7 recorded its 25,000-hour milestone, it demonstrated the potential for fuel cells to meet the equivalent life cycle expectancy similar to a diesel engine.
The fuel cell manufacturer expected the onboard power plant to operate just 4,000 hours. But we’ve created a team of maintenance professionals who have been industry leaders in FCEB and Zero Emission Bus (ZEB) technology; proving FCEBs are a dramatic leap forward in meeting the Advanced Clean Transit Regulations target of operating all zero-emission buses by the year 2040.
—AC Transit Board Director Chris Peeples. . . .
To better demonstrate AC Transit
’s work in the proactive use of zero-emission buses for daily revenue service, a FCEB traveled to Reno, Nevada in support of the APTA 2017 Bus & Paratransit Conference. While the Bay Area has a variety of microclimates and terrains, generally the weather is mild and hilly topography is gradual. So after 16 years of continuous operation in these conditions, Reno was an opportunity to test the FCEB’s durability in inclement weather and steeper terrain.
As a result, one of the 13 fuel cell buses drove 224 consecutive miles (360 km). The FCEB traveled, virtually nonstop, in rain and snow flurries. Perhaps the FCEB’s most impressive accomplishment was its ability to climb the 7057 foot Donner Pass. The FCEB averaged 10.91 miles per gallon and completed the Reno drive in just over five hours.