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Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus Intitative


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From the Spring Capital Budget Adjustment is a proposal to test two hydrogen fuel cell buses, in conjunction with Strathcona County Transit, Calgary Transit, and the Bow Valley RTSC.

ETS seems to be taking the lead on the bus purchase, and I gather the buses will be sent around during the testing phase to the other agencies.

Funding would come from the existing bus capital funding profile. It looks like ETS's contribution would be the cost of two buses, about $1.26 million, with I gather the balance coming from grants. The expected cost per bus is $1.4 million. 

The grant sources appear to be Emissons Reduction Alberta, and Natural Resources Canada. 

Delivery is anticipated for mid 2022. 

There is an interesting comment that mentions hydrogen buses potentially not needing expensive infrastructure in the garage like electric buses do... Seems someone is already tossing electric buses under the bus. 

Apparently Alberta is a source of low cost, low carbon hydrogen.

Buses will be sole sourced, presumably New Flyer.

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  • M. Parsons changed the title to Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus Intitative
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Technically ETS ordered 2, however, they get paid back the entire amount for the second bus which goes to Strathcona County Transit so that the ETS fleet is 1 bus.

It is a 23 month project, so I guess at its conclusion we'll see if either City, or even both, "Medicine Hat" their hydrogen bus.

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1 hour ago, M. Parsons said:

Technically ETS ordered 2, however, they get paid back the entire amount for the second bus which goes to Strathcona County Transit so that the ETS fleet is 1 bus.

It is a 23 month project, so I guess at its conclusion we'll see if either City, or even both, "Medicine Hat" their hydrogen bus.

I believe they are going to be tested first before entering service?Is it possible for them to enter service next year?

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  • 1 month later...

As reported elsewhere, the second bus has arrived. #7001, presumably to fit in with the numbering scheme for Strathcona demonstrators (after the Enviro 500 demo #7000). The plastic side panels and bike rack suggest Strathcona specs.

DSC03246.thumb.JPG.2bd766d138ac55238127b0bdf1416d74.JPGDSC03247.thumb.JPG.ddfc1ec994d09c9c402f47fc3b301f4b.JPG

Note what appears to be manufacturer decals on the first side window. These appear on both sides. The rear is blank, with no plate installed yet. Neither bus appears to have moved much so far.

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The hydrogen should be local, but will be blue.

CP also has a 3 unit hydrogen locomotive fleet being built. They plan to produce green hydrogen in Calgary using solar panels on their HQ, and blue in Edmonton. I would imagine the Edmonton fueling infrastructure might be shared with the bus and truck test fueling site.

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15 hours ago, M. Parsons said:

The hydrogen should be local, but will be blue.

CP also has a 3 unit hydrogen locomotive fleet being built. They plan to produce green hydrogen in Calgary using solar panels on their HQ, and blue in Edmonton. I would imagine the Edmonton fueling infrastructure might be shared with the bus and truck test fueling site.

That's a bit of a shame it's not 100% green. Might as well have just saved them the new technology teething issues and continued with CNG.

Then again, this is the system that dismantled a proven green transit solution years ago, so I dunno.

 

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11 hours ago, 2044 said:

That's a bit of a shame it's not 100% green. Might as well have just saved them the new technology teething issues and continued with CNG.

Then again, this is the system that dismantled a proven green transit solution years ago, so I dunno.

Developing blue hydrogen is a large part of the reason why this funding even existed. The Provincial Government is trying to get into the hydrogen business to diversify and prolong the relevance of fossil fuel industries.

The initial report to Council about this purchase did bash electric buses to a degree, including their garage infrastructure, so things haven't changed since the trolleys it seems. ETS has also at times referred to the buses as "hydrogen battery" buses, and indeed had that phrasing was on decals recently applied to the buses although the "battery" was removed in a very short timeframe before the buses were on display this past weekend.

Of course, with no detection systems for hydrogen leaks in any garages, these 2 buses have sat outside since being delivered. While ETS had the 2 CNG buses they had 1 or 2 bays at their heavy repair Paterson facility equipped with CNG detectors to allow maintenance and storage of the two buses. I can only imagine ETS will end up doing the same for their hydrogen bus.

I would love to see well to wheel emissions between the electric and blue hydrogen buses in Alberta, given that most coal electricity generation has transitioned to natural gas. 

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I would love to see any form of alternate fuel period successful in this city, but I fear that this will turn into another "flavour of the month" scenario just like everything else that has been tried in the past 15 years or so. I am impressed that two of the six hybrids (6001 & 6002) have hung on for this long, but when is the last time they were promoted? CNG disappeared overnight despite being a success elsewhere in the province. Now we have a fleet of 60 electric buses that at best probably sees half the mileage of the equivalent diesel buses... is hydrogen really going to be any different when the desire for systemic change just isn't there?

I am really curious if the added weight of the hydrogen system with the batteries will result in the same sort of quality control issues that are apparent with the Proterras. Might be worth looking into as a FOIP thing with the Proterras anyway... if there are issues preventing them from running in service, can they be attributed to electric propulsion or are they just quality control issues with the bus bodies and other mechanical components?

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38 minutes ago, T6H-5307N said:

is hydrogen really going to be any different when the desire for systemic change just isn't there?

You hit the nail on the head right there. The pressure to go green is there so ETS most likely feels obligated to try out all these different 'flavors' but in reality they have no desire to deviate far from the diesel fleet. They will conveniently find something wrong with each and every 'flavor' of bus. ETS conveniently trotted out all the old myths about trolleys to get rid of them, when they were perfectly fine for almost 70 years.

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2 hours ago, T6H-5307N said:

I am really curious if the added weight of the hydrogen system with the batteries will result in the same sort of quality control issues that are apparent with the Proterras. Might be worth looking into as a FOIP thing with the Proterras anyway... if there are issues preventing them from running in service, can they be attributed to electric propulsion or are they just quality control issues with the bus bodies and other mechanical components?

While I haven't researched it, I don't believe the battery system in a hydrogen bus is much greater than a standard hybrid, so not as many batteries as an electric bus. 
Very simplistic, but the diagrams for fuel cell and hybrid buses on New Flyer's website show 2 battery icons, and for an electric bus 5. 
It actually seems like at least some of the components aren't too heavy. 260kg for the fuel cell package and 37.5 kg for a full load of hydrogen (plus weight of tanks).

Although it's not an apples to apples comparison and specifically applies to Edmonton's specs...

Proterra (with no diesel heater installed) 43,600 lb GVW
New Flyer XHE40- 43,570 lb GVW
New Flyer XE40- 44,400 lb GVW

Obviously the electric buses could be affected by the amount of batteries and I didn't read through the relevant Altoona reports (yet) to see what the capacity was for the 2 electric buses.

Theoretically, I don't see hydrogen buses being any more reliable than an electric. You have the relatively simplicity of a electric power train, but you're installing the power generation onto the bus. With an electric bus, this is off board. And if a battery charger dies, you move to the next one.

None the less, I am cautiously optimistic towards the hydrogen fuel cell. They could be the answer for those runs that require longer running than electrics can do right now. They also seem to have significantly more range than an artic battery bus can manage. 
New Flyer claims an equivalent battery energy of up to 1030 kWh with a hydrogen artic, while a battery electric artic is 525 kWh, which New Flyer say is good for around 153 miles.

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I had a close look at the bus the other weekend when it was on display at the EV Hydrogen expo. 
 

Nice bus!

From what I understand it will be running in Edmonton then it will be tested in Calgary 

anyway, I can’t believe I forgot to post this picture!

Strathcona County had there bud on display  too but I didn’t take any pictures of it.

 

4EA447E2-95F8-4BC4-8C36-6F7D0455B6F9.jpeg

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