NAVC Signs Contracts on New Fuel Cell Bus Projects with FTA

In 2007 The Northeast Advanced Vehicle Consortium (NAVC) signed contracts with the U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for six new projects as part of FTA’s ‘National Fuel Cell Bus Program.’ Four of the projects seek to build and test new fuel cell buses. NAVC, through a competitive solicitation, was awarded $27 million of $49 million in FTA grants awarded for research projects into multiple aspects of commercializing hydrogen fuel-cell buses.

With matching funding from other participants, the total value of the four bus development projects managed by NAVC is $52 million. New projects currently under agreement include:


UTC Power - CT

UTC Power and its partners are participating in the FTA’s National Fuel Cell Bus Program with the objective of commercializing fuel cell buses. The program, referred to as the “Nutmeg Program”, consists of plans to develop fuel cell technology; manufacture and operate 4 fuel cell buses; and to gather critical data from the buses which will lead to improved durability, reliability, and reduced capital cost of the buses. The Nutmeg Program also seeks to operate the buses at various transit facilities to increase visibility and public awareness of the energy efficient fuel cell buses. Program funding from FTA: $8,355,000; Match: $8,355,000 million; Total: $16,710,000.

The Nutmeg Program team currently includes:

UTC Power Prime Coordinates program, provides fuel cell power system and fuel cell technology
CT DOT and CT Transit Transit Operator Operates buses within Connecticut.
Van Hool NV Bus Manufacturer Fabricates and integrates the hybrid buses
Transit Agency -TBD Transit Operator Will operate buses in transit service in areas outside of Connecticut.


GE Global Research – NY

Titled “The Lightweight Battery Dominant Hybrid Fuel Cell Bus Project,” this four-year project seeks to build and demonstrate a transit bus that operates at lower cost than conventional fuel cell buses by advancing energy storage components and developing new control techniques to manage fuel cell output through the use of hybrid energy storage systems. GE will apply experience in controls development and optimization to existing hybrid technologies to bring higher efficiencies and lower costs to fuel cell bus propulsion systems. A new advanced lithium ion battery from A123Systems will be demonstrated as part of the program as well as a lightweight bus body and fuel cell technology. Program funding from FTA: $6,695,000; Match: $6,695,000; Total: $13,390,000.


New York Power Authority - NY

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is leading an effort with New York Power Authority, Ballard Power Systems, ISE, and New Flyer Bus industries to develop and demonstrate two state of the art fuel cell buses in the upstate New York region. At present the site of the demonstration is under negotiation. The buses will be fueled by hydrogen produced by from renewable sources creating a true zero emissions demonstration of fuel cell technology. This project was selected for four years of funding under the National Fuel Cell Bus Program, subject to annual appropriations, totaling $6,120,000; Match: $6,320,000; Total: $12,440,000.


Nuvera Fuel Cells, Inc. - MA

Nuvera will initiate a project to develop an advanced fuel cell bus and conduct in-service demonstrations, including infrastructure advances. The team will integrate a novel 82 kw fuel cell developed by Nuvera Fuel Cell, Inc., onto a 40-foot bus, using ISE Corp., electric drive systems and advanced energy storage. Demonstration effort includes Nuvera’s novel PowerTap refueling infrastructure based on natural gas reformation. This project was selected for four years of funding under the National Fuel Cell Bus Program, subject to annual appropriations, totaling $4,875,000; Match: $4,875,000; Total: $9,750,000.


National Fuel Cell Bus Working Group – U.S.

The objective of this project is for NAVC to assist FTA in maintaining technical and administrative leadership and continuity within the National Fuel Cell Bus Program Working Groups. This assistance will take the form of being Staff to the FTA and working closely with their designated group leader to perform the following tasks: Maintain an up-to-date list serve of all Working Group members, develop and disseminate agendas for all Working Group meetings whether they be via phone or at national fuel cell conferences, take notes and generate minutes and action items of the meetings and disseminate this to all members via the list serve, moderate at FTA Working Group meetings, especially on data collection issues and were necessary, represent FTA at these meetings, develop a map via NAVC web page links to qualitative and quantitative details regarding Fuel Cell Bus projects taking place throughout the U.S., conduct research and document emerging technologies and standardized approaches to technology that have been agreed upon by the Working Groups. This project was selected for four years of funding under the National Fuel Cell Bus Program, subject to annual appropriations, totaling $400,000; Match: $400,000; Total: $800,000.


International Fuel Cell Bus Working Group - Global

There are two distinct products being developed under this project. First is staff assistance to the FTA over the course of the next four years. This assistance will be in the form of helping to write the draft agenda of the Workshops for FTA to submit for consensus and keeping FTA informed of updates in international fuel cell bus projects. Also any requests for action items as FTA warrants regarding the facilitation of the International Fuel Cell Bus Workshop and Working Group. In the past this included strategy, formation assistance of group, travel to workshops, and participate in relevant meetings and conference calls, with approval from FTA, and meeting facilitation. Second, to facilitate the issues surrounding data collection sharing and to help get approval of the participants on utilizing the developing National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) data collection protocol for international partners during Workshop meetings, or to help with international harmonization of a similar protocol worked out by consensus. This will allow comparison of fuel cell bus performance across the line and accelerate the decision-making process regarding sound technology choices. This second product will also include developing a road map of international demonstration projects with links to performance data on the NAVC web site, or a separate new web site to be agreed on. This will showcase data protocol and have additional links to related web sites and pages. This project was selected for four years of funding under the National Fuel Cell Bus Program, subject to annual appropriations, totaling $400,000; Match: $400,000; Total: $800,000.

International Fuel Cell Bus Web Site – Global

In 2007, the United States Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) under their National Fuel Cell Bus Program (NFCBP) awarded competitively bid contracts to the Northeast Advanced Vehicle Consortium (NAVC) located in Boston Massachusetts. These contracts include the creation of a web site that is map based to allow the public to navigate and locate all the demonstration and deployment projects involving the use of hydrogen to propel transit and para-transit buses world wide. This site has features that comply with the American Disabilities Act (ADA). These features include drop down menus from the top of the map that allows navigation via printed words depicting locations of the bus projects. The database that is shown for specific project locations was supplied by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), who is an active partner in the development of this web site. This database includes both public and private information and is therefore protected by user ID and Passwords. If you are an active project manager and authorized partner, you will be contacted by NAVC and provided secure access to your database for editing and updating purposes. Schedule for publication of the web site is in October 2008, with continued updating and project listings as they occur. The budget for this project is included as part of the four year NFCBWG and IFCBWG projects as stated above.


Since 1993, the NAVC's participants have initiated over 70 projects, spanning a wide range of technology areas...

  • electric, hybrid electric and fuel cell propulsion systems
  • buses, utility vans, light-duty vehicles, bicycles
  • electric, natural gas and hydrogen refueling
  • lightweight structural composites
  • energy storage and management

...and vehicle platforms

  • cars and pickups
  • transit and school buses
  • utility vans
  • bicycles

In all, the NAVC has successfully managed over $60 million of advanced vehicle R & D projects over the past ten years.

In addition to developing and managing technology development and demonstration projects, the NAVC also publishes reports, manages industry-government workgroups, and takes the lead another projects designed to test and verify clean fuel vehicle technology or address potential barriers to their successful commercialization.

The following highlights some key projects carried out by NAVC partners or the NAVC itself...

(The complete list of all NAVC projects can be found here.)


U.S. Fuel Cell Bus Working Group

Since 2002, the NAVC has managed the U.S. Fuel Cell Bus Working Group on behalf of the US Department of Transportation. While this group focuses on fuel cells, not hybrids, the Work Group includes transit operators with a general interest in implementing clean fuel bus technologies, electric drive integrators, bus manufacturers and others relevant to the hybrid bus world. This work strengthens the NAVC's relationships with transit agencies, bus manufacturers and advanced technology suppliers and gives the NAVC additional insight into the kinds of operational issues that concern transit operators as they switch to cleaner, advanced technology buses.

Development of "Ruggedized" Transit Bus Fuel Cell Powerplant

The NAVC is a partner in UTC Fuel Cells' program to develop a new, ruggedized fuel cell powerplant for transit buses. UTC, the largest fuel cell developer in the United States, is developing fuel cells for four transit buses to be deployed in California in 2004 and 2005. These buses will be placed in real-world service with an extensive data collection program.

More on the NAVC's fuel cell work here.

Composite Hybrid Bus Development

Through an NAVC project, TPI Composites developed a lightweight, low-floor, fuel-efficient transit bus using an all-composite body and hybrid-electric drivetrain. Solectria developed the hybrid-drive system using compressed natural gas; NAVC also assisted TPI in exploring all currently-available hybrid-electric systems before Solectria was chosen as the supplier. This bus technology was purchased by North American Bus Industries, which is planning to develop diesel buses utilizing this lightweight bus body.

Northeast Clean Bus Project

In 1994, the NAVC launched the Northeast Clean Bus Committee, bringing together key stakeholders in the effort to implement clean, alternative fuel, advanced technology buses in the Northeastern U.S. The committee developed in response to increasing interest from Northeast transit operators, and other stakeholders such as state government environmental regulators, and environmental non profits, in cleaner transit options that would improve air quality. Fuel cells, hybrids, CNG, biodiesel, and advanced catalytic converters were just being introduced by manufacturers, and there was no centralized source of information where all the stakeholders could hear the same information at the same time so that realistic expectations of future implementation could be made with sufficient information. The NAVC invited metropolitan transit authorities, bus suppliers, city and state environmental agencies, the Federal Transit Agency and electric and gas utilities, and non-profit environmental groups to meet in order to learn about alternative fuel bus technologies and exchange information on putting the buses into service. The Committee held a series of meetings from 1994 through 1998, with each meeting focused on a different technology: natural gas, battery-powered electric, hybrid electric, fuel cell and biodiesel. These meetings became the basis for future pilot projects.