While many transit agencies in Canada are conducting small-scale battery-electric bus (BEB) trials, none of them currently involve hydrogen fuel cell electric bus (FCEB) technology which offers the same zero-emission benefits for a transit system looking to decarbonize its bus fleet.
By participating in this unique pilot project, MiWay can evaluate the benefits and challenges of both technologies to plan the best road to electrification to support the City’s Climate Change Action Plan.
Buses with FCEB technology are different than those powered by electric batteries in that they use hydrogen fuel cells to generate the electrical power needed to run.
Electricity is generated through an electro-chemical reaction with the fuel cell and hydrogen fuel, which powers the bus and its electricity-driven systems. The by-product of this process is heat (water vapor), so these buses produce no tailpipe exhaust emissions. The only external infrastructure needed to support them is a hydrogen fueling station.
Fuel cell electric buses not only generate little to no greenhouse gas emissions but in theory, can also deliver the critical operational benefits a transit system needs to serve customers in a practical way, particularly on long-distance routes.
For example, because hydrogen fuel-cell electric buses are lighter, quieter, have more fuel capacity and can be refueled in about the same time as a diesel bus, they don’t require large, heavy batteries that often take a long time to charge. And they don’t depend on battery charging infrastructure set up on street or in a bus storage garage.
MiWay is already undertaking a Transit Electrification Study to understand battery-electric bus conversion opportunities, and in 2021 will start operating 11 new, second-generation 60 foot hybrid-electric buses that are convertible to full battery power. These are the first buses of their kind in Ontario and the third in Canada.
Pilot project – two phases
MiWay will be partnering with the Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) on the hydrogen fuel cell electric bus pilot project, which will be delivered in two phases.
In the first phase, a feasibility study will be completed to understand four key components in applying the technology:
- Local hydrogen fuel supply and storage (in Mississauga);
- Vehicle design and implementation logistics as well as statutory and regulatory requirements (e.g. Clean Fuel Standards);
- Economic and financial viability (including carbon pricing mechanisms); and
- Greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction opportunities.
In the second phase, which is currently unfunded, MiWay would participate in a hydrogen fuel cell demonstration and integration trial based on a 12-year lifecycle of a typical bus, delivering service to MiWay customers in Mississauga – Canada’s sixth largest City.
This pilot project will not only inform MiWay’s ‘Road to Electrification,’ but also an investment in its second phase will kick-start the development of Canada’s first local hydrogen ecosystem in Mississauga, capitalizing on a national network of manufacturing, production, knowledge innovation, and design capabilities across the country.
MiWay and CUTRIC are seeking Provincial and Federal Government funding to support the second phase of this innovative public-private partnership to buy and operate 10 hydrogen fuel cell electric buses, applying the knowledge acquired through the first phase.