The National Fuel Cell Bus Program (NFCBP) is a cooperative initiative between government and industry to advance the commercialization of fuel cell technology in US transit buses.  Projects under the NFCBP follow a path that begins with developing concepts to constructing prototypes, to demonstrating and evaluating, and finally publishing findings. This program primarily focuses the commercialization of full-size, heavy-duty fuel cell transit buses through advancing fuel cell bus technologies.

There are a number of goals and performance objectives for the National Fuel Cell Bus Program:

•    Increase fuel cell durability to 4 to 6 years/20,000 to 30,000 hours
•    Increase fuel cell reliability to more than 90% reliability
•    Reduce fuel cell bus cost to  less than 5 times comparable transit bus
•    Improve transit bus fuel efficiency to reduce petroleum consumption and enhance energy security
•    Increase public awareness and acceptance of fuel cell vehicle.

The CALSTART strategy to advance fuel cell technology utilizes three parallel development paths: a direct route that develops and accelerates testing on the best existing fuel cells; an evolutionary route that combines smaller fuel cells with other supporting technologies; and a component route that develops the core enabling sub-systems fuel cells will need to succeed.

Under FTA project awards, CALSTART is playing a vital role in mainstreaming of hydrogen and fuel cell buses in the US for the National Fuel Cell Bus Program.  Some projects CALSTART has developed and managed with its project teams include the Sun Line-BAE battery dominant fuel cell bus, the US Hybrid fuel cell power plant and the San Francisco Metro and Hydrogenics fuel cell hybrid bus. Information sheets on these and other CALSTART-FTA NFCBP projects listed below.

Battery Dominant Fuel Cell Hybrid Bus

CALSTART with BAE Systems, Hydrogenics, El Dorado National, US Hybrid,and Sun Line Transit Agency have teamed to develop, integrate, and demonstrate the zero-emission Battery Dominant Fuel Cell Hybrid Bus(FCHB), a fast-track approach to help the Federal Transit Administration meet both technical and commercial targets for the National Fuel CellBus Program. This project will develop and integrate the requisite fuel cell bus technologies on a 40-foot heavy-duty E lDorado transit bus demonstrated by Sun Line Transit. The team is pursuing a systems-level approach that optimizes the various components and sub-systems at the bus level. This approach incorporates advances in, and integration with,the hybrid-electric power systems inverters, converters and controls,electric machines, energy storage, more-electric vehicle accessory systems, and advance fuel cells. Download the project summary sheet.

Next Generation Compound Fuel Cell Hybrid Bus

CALSTART with BAE Systems, Hydrogenics and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will develop and test hardware and software improvements to the Compound Fuel Cell Hybrid Bus architecture to further the goals of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) National Fuel Cell Bus Program (NFCBP).  This work leverages and extends the work accomplished by the team on the Compound Hybrid Project by applying a next generation fuel cell in the 30 kW range and power electronics technology in a standardized and scalable architecture with significantly better performance, reliability and affordability. This program also will extend the revenue service demonstration phase of the Compound Hybrid Project by up to an additional 9 months, broadening and enhancing the operation evaluation and data reporting period. Download the project summary sheet.

Advanced Generation Fuel Cell Bus Power Plant

US Hybrid, through an agreement with CALSTART, is developing an advanced fuel cell power plant for the transit bus industry. The project will create a working prototype that is capable of being integrated into and operated in a fuel cell bus.  The intent of this project, as part of the Federal Transit Administration National Fuel Cell Bus Program, is to commercialize the new power plant for use in an advanced, lightweight,“Buy America” compliant fuel cell bus. On-road fleets will validate the product development and commercialization process. This project is an important and necessary developmental step for the fuel cell power plant along the pathway toward commercialization. Download the project summary sheet.

Best Practices in Hydrogen Fueling and Maintenance Facilities for Transit Agencies

This Best Practices guide provides an easily digestible resource to help transit properties plan and clearly understand the parameters for refueling and fuel filling; the guidelines for safety; the requirements of maintenance facilities, and the economics of hydrogen facilities. Download the full document of Best Practices in Hydrogen.

Fuel Cell Bus Market Study

CALSTART is conducting the first comprehensive national evaluation of fuel cell bus demand amongst transit operators. The study will project mid- and long-term market demand for fuel cell buses, bus replacement and maintenance equipment, support services and employment. This will help the fast-growing fuel cell bus industry understand the needs,requirements, and potential demand for fuel cell buses of transit operators throughout the United States. Download the project summary sheet.