A new milestone has been achieved by the Alameda-Contra Costa (California) Transit District (AC Transit) – 25,000 hours of continuous operation of a Fuel Cell Electric Bus, or FCEB #7. In 2015, the FCEB power plant set an international record for 20,000 hours of continuous operation. These accomplishments showcase the durability of hydrogen fuel cell in daily revenue service.

(Source: AC Transit)(Source: AC Transit)The fuel cell manufacturer expected the onboard power plant to operate just 4,000 hours, but AC Transit surpassed this expectation by assembling a maintenance team of industry leaders in the zero emission bus technology industry.

The U.S. Department of Energy and Federal Transit Administration established performance metrics and life expectancy for FCEBs. Traditionally, life expectancy of a public transit bus is measured in the number of miles on its diesel engine; a diesel engine’s life expectancy is 6 years or 250,000 miles before overhaul. Now, the life expectancy of the fuel cell power plant is measured in terms of hours. Once AC Transit’s FCEB #7 recorded its 25,000-hour milestone, it demonstrated the potential for fuel cells to meet the equivalent life cycle expectancy similar to a diesel engine.

FCEB #7 is one of thirteen zero-emission buses operated by AC Transit. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory documents a series of successes of the AC Transit FCEB fleet, including:

  • The FCEB fleet operated 2,057,099 miles and accumulated 248,546 hours on the fuel cell power systems since being placed into service.
  • AC Transit has safely refueled its FCEB fleet 3,428 times with more than 76,932 kg of hydrogen fuel.
  • The FCEBs have experienced less brake wear compared to conventional diesel buses. Only five out of the thirteen FCEBs have had brake relines since being placed in service. The highest-mileage bus that has not had a reline has surpassed 160,000 miles.