SARTA's hydrogen station at the ready
The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority has finished building its hydrogen pumping station. And it's already got its first hydrogen bus, a vehicle that uses a fuel cell for propulsion and reportedly emits no pollutants.
CANTON The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority has completed its hydrogen pumping station, which was under construction for much of 2016.
After the Oct. 10 opening of that hydrogen pumping station, it has one hydrogen bus in the garage that it unexpectedly got from the University of Alabama about two weeks ago, said the agency's executive director, Kirt Conrad.
The school no longer wanted the bus. SARTA will allow students in Stark State College's technician program to work on it. It will go into service next month.
In addition, because it's one of the handful of public transit agencies in the country to use hydrogen fuel-cell technology, which propels buses without any emission of pollutants, a non-profit group Center for Transportation and the Environment has decided to hold its International Zero Emission Bus Conference and Fuel Cell Bus Workshop on fuel cell buses in Canton, said Conrad, who has said the buses only emit water. He attended this year's events in London a few weeks ago. Conrad said London has about 10 fuel cell buses.
Conrad has said the benefits of the hydrogen buses are cleaner air and encouraging the development of a hydrogen fuel cell industry in Ohio.
Another hydrogen bus that will join SARTA's fleet is on loan to Ohio State University in Columbus for use as a demonstration vehicle. It was in Canton for a few months after being delivered in May where it was demonstrated at SARTA's transit stations, Canton City Schools and Stark State College, said Conrad, where local public elected officials rode the bus. SARTA's third bus is at Penn State undergoing reliability tests by the Federal Transit Authority.
ElDorado is the buses' manufacturer, which is installing an electrical drive train from BAE Systems and a Ballard Power Systems fuel cell on each vehicle.
Five more hydrogen buses are on order, with one arriving each month starting in January. Conrad expects SARTA to have 11 hydrogen buses by the end of 2017. They now each cost about $1.4 million, nearly all of the purchases with the cost of the hydrogen station are being funded by more than $25 million in grants by the federal government, which is seeking to promote zero emission technology. Conrad said the cost is $600,000 less than the cost of each of the first two buses when fewer buses were being made increasing the per-unit costs.
He said the new hydrogen buses will allow SARTA to take out of service at least five buses that are over 500,000 miles and are in need of replacement.
As for the approximately $1.9 million hydrogen pumping station at SARTA's Gateway headquarters in southeast Canton headquarters, it's operational, said Conrad. A 9,000-gallon tank holds liquid hydrogen at extremely cold temperatures. A vaporizer converts the liquid hydrogen into gas where it's stored in underground tanks and then it's pumped into the hydrogen buses with fuel dispensers. The pumping station can support up to 20 vehicles. A bus can hold 50 kilograms of gas. The hydrogen is shipped from Air Products' hydrogen plant in Ontario.
A kilogram of hydrogen gas, which now costs about $4.50, is roughly equal to a gallon, said Conrad. A hydrogen gas bus gets about eight to nine miles out of about a kilogram of hydrogen gas while a regular diesel bus gets about four miles to the gallon.
Published: Wednesday, December 28, 2016