- What is The HyRoad?
- What is ZEBA?
- What is a fuel cell? How does it work?
- Is it really safe?
- What are the environmental benefits?
- Who’s paying for all of this?
- Why is AC Transit involved in this demonstration program?
- Will I be able to use the hydrogen station to fill my own fuel cell car?
- Why use hydrogen at all? Why not just have battery-powered electric vehicles?
- Doesn’t producing the hydrogen pollute?
- Where can I ride the fuel cell bus?
The HyRoad is AC Transit’s hydrogen fuel cell demonstration project. AC Transit joined the California Fuel Cell Partnership in 2000. Since then, we have secured over $83 million in grants to acquire and operate three zero-emission fuel cell buses, two fueling stations, and to test ten light-duty fuel cell vehicles. For a more complete program description, click here.
Zero Emission Bay Area, or ZEBA, is a group of regional transit agencies jointly operating twelve, zero-emission, fuel cell buses in real-world service throughout the Bay Area’s diverse communities and landscapes. ZEBA partners include AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit, MUNI, Samtrans, and VTA. Together, these agencies serve seven California counties with a combined population of over 6.8 million people.
When hydrogen and oxygen combine, they create water and electricity. In a fuel cell, the protons from hydrogen pass through a membrane to the other side of the cell. The electrons from the hydrogen can’t pass through the membrane, so they reach the other side of the cell trough a wire, producing electricity. The protons, electrons and oxygen from the air then combine to form water. For a more complete description, plus animation demonstrating the process, click here.
Hydrogen is as safe or safer than conventional fuels. First of all, hydrogen is not toxic and doesn’t pollute. Second, hydrogen is 14 times lighter than air and dissipates rapidly. So if there’s ever a leak, hydrogen doesn’t pool, creating a fire hazard. It dissipates almost instantly-without polluting. Like any fuel, hydrogen is flammable and must be handled carefully. For more about hydrogen safety, click here.
Fuel cell vehicles are zero-emission vehicles. The only thing that comes out of the tailpipe is water vapor. No smog-forming nitrogen oxides. No particulates. No carbon dioxide. This means cleaner air. This means less global warming. This means healthier, quieter neighborhoods. For more on the environmental benefits, click here.
The HyRoad Program is being paid for with generous grants from:
- Bay Area Air Quality Management District
- California Air Resources Board
- California Energy Commission
- Metropolitan Transportation Commission
- U.S. Department of Energy
- U.S. Department of Transportation / Federal Transit Administration
AC Transit is deeply committed to improving the health of the environment and the quality of life in the communities we serve. We are determined to find technological solutions to environmental challenges. We are honored to have been selected as one of the lead transit agencies in the country to demonstrate this promising new technology.
Yes. Thanks to funding from the California Air Resources Board, AC Transit built a public access hydrogen dispenser on the border of its Emeryville facility, Upon signing a third-party agreement to cover liability issues, and completing an orientation and training program, qualified operators of fuel cell vehicles will be able to use this station.
The issue should not be fuel cells vs. batteries; all clean alternatives could be part of the overall solution to energy and environmental challenges. But for transit buses, which already have centralized fueling facilities, hydrogen offers a few key advantages: Hydrogen is more versatile. It can be stored for long periods, and hydrogen-powered vehicles have a far greater range and can be refueled in a matter of minutes, rather than the many hours it takes to recharge the batteries in battery-powered electric vehicles.
That depends how the hydrogen is produced. When produced from natural gas, some carbon dioxide is released, but smog-forming nitrogen oxides are negligible. Overall, reforming natural gas is a cleaner process than burning natural gas-and far cleaner than burning diesel. When hydrogen is produced from water, using solar electricity, no pollution is emitted in the production. For more on the HyRoad Vision for the Future, click here.
AC Transit operates its fuel cell buses on various lines throughout the district. Fuel cell buses are currently running on several lines throughout the District’s service area. We encourage you to look for the fuel cell buses and their unique design and hop on for a ride.