Environmental Impact and Cost-Effectiveness of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Buses: Going Beyond CTTransit Demonstration Project

Hydrogen fuel cell bus technology is currently being demonstrated in several states by the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE). Fuel cell buses are an attractive alternative to traditional diesel buses used in urban areas because they have zero tailpipe emissions, thus reducing smog and air pollution. Furthermore, these buses can reduce fuel consumption, as they operate using electricity (stored in ZEBRA batteries) and hydrogen fuel. However, both the manufacture and operation of fuel cell buses incur significant environmental and monetary costs that limit the potential for widespread adoption. This paper uses results from a demonstration project in Hartford, Connecticut to conduct a life cycle analysis of fuel cell buses and analyze the economic and environmental tradeoffs that result. Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Analysis (EIOLCA) and data from the DOE are used to describe and analyze the greenhouse gas emissions from both fuel cell and diesel buses. Four main factors are identified as key differences between fuel cell and diesel buses: diesel engine combustion and fuel use, electricity generation, hydrogen production, and ZEBRA battery production. This paper also discusses the role of energy production in greenhouse gas emissions, and highlights the necessity of using clean energy sources to maximize the benefits of fuel cell vehicles. Cost effectiveness and the need for clean electricity generation are two barriers to implementation that need to be overcome in order for fuel cell buses to be a viable option for U.S. urban transit.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: DVD
  • Features: Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 17p
  • Monograph Title: TRB 89th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers DVD

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01154548
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 10-3856
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Jan 25 2010 11:58AM