GE Demonstrates Battery-Dominant Fuel Cell Bus Using New Battery

14 Dec 2012

GE Battery-Fuel Cell Bus Demo

  • Shows potential of Durathon™ battery in hybrid transportation
  • Energy management technology provides effective approach to enable smaller, lower cost fuel cells for clean transportation
  • Solution could eventually lead to electrification of buses, delivery trucks, and other heavy-duty vehicles

Researchers at GE Global Research, the General Electric Company’s technology development arm, have achieved a first step in reducing the cost of clean fuel, zero emission buses, with a vehicle powered by GE’s new Durathon battery in tandem with a lithium battery and a hydrogen fuel cell. This promising development of a new energy management system could help accelerate both fuel cell acceptance and electrification of bus fleets, delivery trucks and other larger, heavy-duty vehicle fleets enabling clean vehicle technologies. To see a video demonstration of the bus click here.

GE researchers believe that the kind of energy management architecture they’re building will allow for a bus to operate at full performance with a significantly smaller fuel cell than previously possible. The fuel cell power plant represents a significant cost and GE’s energy management system has the potential to bring down those costs by up to 50%.

Tim Richter, Systems Engineer in the Electric Propulsion Systems Lab at GE Global Research, said: “What we want to deliver is a cost-effective bus that emits no harmful pollutants.”

The research is being done as part of a $13 million research project GE is engaged in with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Northeast Advanced Vehicle Consortium, funded under the National Fuel Cell Bus Program.

Most types of batteries today come with a trade-off between power and energy storage. For example, lithium batteries, provide a lot of power for acceleration, but are not optimized to store energy for driving range. Sodium batteries, like GE’s Durathon, are on the opposite side of the spectrum. They store large amounts of energy, but are less optimized for power. GE’s dual battery combines the best attributes of both chemistries into a single system. In the hybrid transit bus demonstration, the lithium battery focused on the high power acceleration and braking, while the Durathon battery provided an even electric power flow to extend the bus range.

Many of the 846,000 buses registered in the U.S. (including most of the 63,000 transit buses and 480,000 school buses) travel less than 100 miles per day. Enabling more of these buses to transition to a zero emissions fuel cell–battery platform would dramatically reduce CO2 emissions and petroleum fuel consumption.

GE’s Durathon batteries are produced at the company’s start-up Energy Storage business in Schenectady, New York, which opened in July 2012. The batteries are being shipped to a range of markets in applications including telecommunications and grid balancing GE says it is also targeting locomotives and mining vehicles in addition to energy-efficient buses.

Source: taken from GE news release

Photo: Business Wire

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