The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded a contract to UTC Fuel Cells (UTCFC), a unit of United Technologies and the Northeast Advanced Vehicle Consortium (NAVC), to design a heavy-duty, zero emission, ambient-pressure fuel cell power plant for buses.
The effort is being funded by $2.6 million from the US Department of Transportation with a $2 million match from UTCFC.
NAVC, a non-profit association of private and public sector firms and agencies working together to promote advanced vehicle technologies in the Northeast of the US, will administer the project, which calls for UTCFC to design a hydrogen-fuelled fuel cell power plant in the range of 200kW.
The project specifically calls for the unit to be an ambient-pressure fuel cell system. UTCFC is the only fuel cell company developing ambient pressure fuel cell technology for transportation applications.
Sheila Lynch, executive director of NAVC, said the project is the first stage of a multi-phase program leading to the production of power plants for fuel cell bus demonstration programs in 2004 in the Hartford, CT region.
UTC Fuel Cells has been developing fuel cells for transportation applications since 1996. It has partnered with Nissan, Renault, Hyundai and BMW to develop fuel cells for automobiles and is developing fuel cells for the bus market with partners Irisbus of Europe and Thor Industries of the US.
The Thor and Irisbus projects are hybrid buses that use 75kW ambient pressure fuel cells in conjunction with on-board batteries to propel the bus. The new heavy-duty design will create a fuel cell power plant large enough to propel the bus and eliminate the need for batteries.