Hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles, including cars and buses, will have a significant impact on clean transportation.
Fuel cell cars and buses work in a similar fashion. Hydrogen is pumped into the tank of a car or bus, like gasoline. The hydrogen is then fed into the fuel cell where it is electrochemically converted into electricity – with no combustion and no emissions other than water vapour. The electricity generated is used to power the vehicle. A fuel cell is also 2-3 times more energy efficient than traditional gasoline or diesel engines.
For passenger vehicles - full performance, zero-emissions, clean mobility is the end-game for automotive manufacturers. Automakers around the world including GM, Toyota, Ford, Daimler and Honda are developing a portfolioof clean mobility solutions ranging from bio-fuelled vehicles, through to hybrids and plug-in hybrids, and hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles. While several alternative power technologies reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the fuel cell is the only powertrain that can meet the extended range and rapid refuelling requirements desired by consumers. Most automakers have stated plans for early commercialization of fuel cell automobiles, in select regions, in the 2015 timeframe.
Canada is a pioneer in the development of automotive fuel cell technologies, including an expertise in the supply of parts an compoments for fuel cell vehicles. Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation Corp. (a joint venture between Daimler, Ford and Ballard Power Systems), based in Burnaby, BC, continues to develop automotive fuel cell technology and is one of the only next generation automotive research and development centres in Canada.
In the meantime, Canada is a leader in the development and deployment of fuel cell bus technology. BC Transit's fleet of 20 fuel cell buses is the largest fleet of its kind in the world, providing regular revenue transit service to residents in the community of Whistler, British Columbia.