Fuel Cell World Record – 10,000-Hour Durability

CT Transit Fuel Cell Fleet Bus
Fuel Cell powerplants are proving to be durable and efficient in fleet operations.
UTC Power

How long can a fuel cell last? Quite a while, judging by a world record set by UTC Power. One of UTC Power’s latest generation PureMotion System Model 120 fuel cell powerplants for hybrid-electric transit buses has surpassed 10,000 operating hours in real-world service with its original cell stacks and no cell replacements. This powerplant is aboard an Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) bus operating in the Greater Oakland, California area.

UTC Power has provided fuel cells for fleet transportation since 1998, powering buses in the United States, Spain, Italy, and Belgium. The Model 120 was introduced into commercial service in 2005 and represents more than nine years of research and development. It is a quiet, efficient, zero-emission proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell system for heavy duty vehicles.

“The exceptional performance of the PureMotion product is a testament to UTC Power’s advanced fuel cell technology,” said Dana Kaplinski, manager of UTC Power’s transportation business. “The new technology we introduced in 2007 has surpassed our customers’ expectations. Buses equipped with the Model 120 fuel cell system have traveled more than 630,000 miles, a significant accomplishment as we continue to make progress toward the commercialization of fuel cell buses.”

There are now 18 transit buses in commercial service powered by PureMotion System Model 120 fuel cell powerplants. These buses are operating in California (AC Transit and SunLine Transit) and Connecticut (CTTransit). The Model 120 powerplants have consistently maintained 90 percent average availability while operating in commercial transit service since February 2008 – meaning the units are operational and available to power the buses on scheduled runs 90 percent of the time. This reliability surpasses transit industry targets of 85 percent availability for conventional engines.

“Since late 2005, AC Transit has accumulated more than 400,000 miles of service and carried in excess of one million passengers on its fleet of fuel cell buses powered by UTC Power fuel cell power plants,” said Jaimie Levin, AC Transit’s Director of Alternative Fuels Policy and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Program Manager. “Our passengers love these buses, as well as our mechanics and drivers. We are extremely pleased and impressed with the performance of the UTC Power near-ambient pressure fuel cell system, and our entire staff is proud to be a part of the team that has reached this critical milestone.”

CTTransit is also pleased with the performance of the PureMotion Systems aboard their fleet of fuel cell-powered hybrid-electric transit buses. “CTTransit has operated fuel cell buses since 2007 and we have seen remarkable progress in powerplant durability,” said Steve Warren, assistant general manager-maintenance services for CTTransit. “We operate the newest fleet of four fuel cell buses in the same urban conditions and routes as our diesel fleet, from snowstorms to the recent heat wave, and their performance has been outstanding.”

In October 2010, CTTransit unveiled four next-generation fuel cell-powered hybrid-electric transit buses at their headquarters in Hartford, Conn. The four new buses joined another bus that has been in service since 2007 that is also powered by a fuel cell from UTC Power. The durability and reliability of the previous generation powerplant proved that the technology works and encouraged CTTransit to invest further in buses powered by the PureMotion System. To accommodate its growing fuel cell bus fleet, CTTransit is building a new garage to store up to six fuel cell buses and is installing a hydrogen fueling station at their headquarters.

Buses powered by the PureMotion System are more than two times more fuel efficient than a diesel-powered bus and are emission-free, generating no soot or smog-forming pollutants. Compared to a diesel version, every bus equipped with a UTC Power PureMotion system reduces nitrogen oxide emissions equivalent to removing 77 cars from the road per year and creates the same carbon dioxide benefits as planting 31 acres of forest.

UTC Power is part of United Technologies Corp. (UTC), which provides energy-efficient products and services to the aerospace and building industries. UTC is a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index each year since it was launched in 1999. Based in South Windsor, Conn., UTC Power is the world leader in developing and producing fuel cells that generate energy for buildings and for transportation, space and defense applications.

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