Text: H2 Zero Emission Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric

We are thrilled to welcome Champaign-Urbana’s first zero emission buses. Two 20-year-old diesel buses will be replaced with zero emission hydrogen fuel cell electric buses. As an industry leader, MTD will be one of the first transportation agencies in the country to power hydrogen fuel cell electric buses using 100% renewable hydrogen generated by solar energy. From sun to street, these buses provide cleaner air for all - it’s like riding on sunshine!

There are two types of electric-drive vehicles leading the way: battery-electric buses and fuel cell electric buses. A fuel cell electric bus operates on gaseous hydrogen. The components on the bus are nearly the same as a battery electric bus, except the fuel cell and onboard hydrogen storage vessels. But producing hydrogen to fuel the buses requires electricity. Where does that electricity come from?

For MTD’s buses, it will come from the sun. Our fuel cell electric buses will run on renewable hydrogen by using solar energy to power the on site production station at our Maintenance Facility. Through a process called electrolysis, electricity splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, and the hydrogen is then captured and used to fuel the buses. Hydrogen is the simplest and most abundant element in the universe, making it readily available to power our fleet.

With their exceptional performance and environmental benefits, electric-drive vehicles are the premiere zero emission drive technology in the transportation sector. MTD chose to venture into fuel cell electric vehicles because of the greater range, lower weight, greater durability, easier deployment and route flexibility, and cradle-to-grave recycling attributes. In addition, they can be refueled rapidly and do not require down time to recharge.

The only output from the tailpipe is water vapor that is clean enough to drink.

Fuel cells are more compact, and lighter in weight at approximately one third of the weight of batteries.

During low winter temperatures, fuel cell vehicles use waste heat from the fuel cell to keep the inside of the vehicle warm, saving significant energy.

Fuel cell electric buses can drive up to 300 miles on a single refueling

Fuel cell electric buses can be refueled in 10 minutes. Recharging large battery packs take as long as six hours.

We want to plan our service to serve our community. We don’t want to plan our service to serve our equipment. The beauty of the fuel cell bus is that, operationally, there are no alterations to our system that we need to make. The battery-electric buses do not have the range that allow you to just put a bus out and have it run for 18 hours. A hydrogen bus has a range that is equivalent to a diesel bus, so it’s a one-for-one replacement.

— Karl Gnadt, Managing Director