Georgetown University in Washington DC, as part of their Advanced Vehicle Development program, has decided to show off its latest hydrogen bus with a road trip. The first stop on the trip is Northern Illinois University (NIU) in Dekalb, IL. The hydrogen bus will also visit NIU’s additional campuses in Rockford, IL and Naperville, IL. The tour will take place on Sunday, April 23, 2006.
Georgetown University, in conjunction with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and in cooperation with several other companies, has won a contract from the Federal Transit Administration. This contract is to develop a fuel cell power plant for a next generation, heavy-duty transit bus under the Generation III Fuel Cell Bus program.
According to Georgetown, “The power plant to be developed under this program will be a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) system capable of approximately 60 kW (80 hp) net output. The system will be fueled by methanol, and will utilize a low-temperature steam reformer to convert the methanol into a clean, hydrogen-rich gas on demand. The reformer will be a third generation system designed with emphasis on simplicity and low manufacturing costs. The resulting fuel cell system will be quick-responding, compact, and lightweight.”
What makes this vehicle different from so many hydrogen vehicles is that it actually uses methanol as its primary fuel with an onboard steam reformer to convert the methanol to hydrogen gas. Other manufacturers have been working on reformers for vehicles as well such as Toyota with their Toyota FCHV-5 hydrogen SUV and CHF reformer and the Department of Energy’s PNNL division that is developing a reformer to convert gasoline to hydrogen.
It’s good to know that a notable university like Georgetown is on the job, working hard to provide cleaner burning vehicles to help usher in the new hydrogen economy.