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Phase 1 - Proof of Concept

The first phase demonstrated the viability of Ballard Fuel Cell Engines for transit buses. The world's first fuel cell powered bus ran on the streets of Vancouver, British Columbia on January 27, 1993, proving the potential for Ballard Fuel Cell Engines. The engine for this vehicle was developed using 24 of Ballard's first generation 5 kW stacks connected in three series strings to deliver 120 kW gross power (160 Vdc @ 750 Amperes). The rest of the engine system was assembled from components commercially available "off-the-shelf'. The engine was fueled by compressed hydrogen gas, stored at 3000 psig in standard DOT-approved fibreglass-reinforced aluminum cylinders. These cylinders are widely used on compressed natural gas-powered buses.

The bus demonstrated many important performance characteristics: startup takes less than four seconds; power is available for propulsion immediately; maximum power is available in less than one tenth of a second; low end torque is excellent, allowing the driver to pull away from the curb and into traffic quickly and safely. The Ballard Fuel Cell Engine demonstrated 46% fuel efficiency, compared to 20% efficiency for a conventional diesel engine. With improvement in subsystems, Ballard engines will exceed 50% efficiency.

The bus clearly demonstrated that a PEM fuel cell engine can meet vehicle performance criteria while creating no pollution. This bus continues to provide demonstrations of the future of pollution-free transportation in various cities across North America.

Figure 2: World's First Fuel Cell Powered ZEV Bus Phase 2 - Commercial Prototype

The second phase improved the fuel cell engine, meeting the performance of a diesel engine in powering a full size 40-foot heavy duty transit bus.

A major increase in fuel cell power led to substantial increases in engine performance in phase two. Second generation fuel cells, two and one half times more powerful than their phase one counterparts, drove a 275 HP engine fitted into a fully functional transit bus.

Figure 2: World's First Fuel Cell Powered ZEV Bus Phase 2 - Commercial Prototype

New Flyer Industries model H40LF advanced low floor transit bus was used as the development and testing vehicle for the second phase engine. New Flyer built the coach and assisted with the engine and fuel storage installation.

The engine uses 20 of Ballard's second generation 13 kW stacks connected in two strings to deliver 260 kW gross power (650 Vdc @ 400 Amperes). Its cooling system is designed to operate at temperatures below freezing. Fuel for this bus is carried on the roof in advanced light-weight graphite/polymer composite cylinders which carry three times more fuel than the cylinders used in phase one, providing the bus with a range of over 250 miles (400 km).

The bus retained standard vehicle characteristics and met Urban Mass Transit Authority (UMTA) performance criteria:

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