MTD Unveils Zero Emission Fleet Technology | October 14, 2021

Public transportation powered by clean fuel, emits only water vapor

Urbana, Illinois – The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD) unveils zero emission fleet technology that is the first of its kind. At today’s event, Riding on Sunshine, project partners will join elected and appointed officials as MTD pulls back the curtain on a project that captures the most abundant element in the universe – hydrogen – alongside the most abundant energy resource on Earth – solar power.

MTD celebrates a newly commissioned, on-site hydrogen production station that will be powered by a solar array that spans nearly 5,500 panels. The resulting clean hydrogen fuel powers 60-foot hydrogen fuel cell buses for its transit system, which emit only water vapor, as they serve the cities of Champaign, Urbana, Savoy, and the third-largest Big 10 University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“MTD has always been forward thinking, and this project puts MTD right out on the cutting edge. We invite members of the public and the industries of transportation and energy to learn about our project and celebrate this advancement in climate resiliency,” says Karl Gnadt, MTD’s Managing Director/CEO. “MTD riders, and our community, will see the hydrogen fuel cell buses in service starting the week of October 17.”

 MTD proudly advances the work of renewable energy, zero emission technology, and sustainable transportation through this majority grant funded project that is defined by public and private partnerships.

“FTA is proud to partner with MTD and provide over $5 million in federal funding to expand environmentally-friendly bus service in Central Illinois,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “MTD’s work to incorporate hydrogen fuel cell technology into its bus fleet is truly revolutionary and we appreciate their leadership as we work together to fight climate change.”

The hydrogen fuel cell electric buses save over 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel per bus each year, and one bus reduces greenhouse gases up to 135 tons annually. MTD’s truly zero emission fleet will operate alongside diesel electric hybrid buses, currently 97% of the 114 bus fleet, but will be 100% low or no emission in 2022.

Hydrogen fuel cell electric buses bring the power of zero emissions without the stagnancy of recharging. Hydrogen fueling takes no more time than conventional diesel fueling, which enables flexible route and service designs. Hydrogen is non-toxic and is 14 times lighter than air. With rooftop hydrogen fuel tank storage, an unplanned release rises safely in the air at 45 miles per hour, rather than pooling on the ground. MTD’s zero emission, hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles present a reliable solution for a brighter, cleaner tomorrow.