While we were jealously hung up on South Korea's working electric bus system, Christmas apparently came early for a couple of lucky US fuel cell bus research projects -- in the form of $16.6 million in Federal Transit Administration grants. Pasadena based Calstart snagged almost $10.2 million and will funnel 70 percent of the funds to developing the first phase of a low-cost, longer lasting fuel cell power system. Calstart will then spend its remaining $2.9 million in partnership with the Chicago Regional Transit Authority to develop and test the viability of fuel cell bus fleets in cold climates. The Center for Transportation and the Environment in Atlanta was the other project to hit the federal money gravy train. It received a hefty $6.4 million to spread across six different projects that dabble in everything from developing fast-charging 35-foot fuel cell buses, to similar lithium ion versions, to improving existing hybrid bus platforms. Federal pork for fuel cell DSLR development regrettably missed the cut. For the full scoop hit up the press release after the break.
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FTA Program Promotes Advanced Fuel Cell Technologies to Power Cleaner, Greener Transit Buses

WASHINGTON – Pursuing new technologies to let fuel cell buses operate in cold climates is among the research projects to receive money from the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) National Fuel Cell Bus Program, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today.

The Center for Transportation and the Environment in Atlanta will receive $6.42 million and CALSTART in Pasadena, CA will receive $10.17 million to coordinate research among fuel cell manufacturers, engineering firms and transit agencies throughout the country.

"The Obama Administration is proud to partner with researchers who are exploring greener, more efficient ways to power buses," said Secretary LaHood. "Adapting fuel-cell technology to buses will result in a cleaner environment and quieter streets for everyone."

"The transit industry must continue to be at the forefront of creating green jobs and establishing globally competitive technologies right here at home in the United States," said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. "As we move clean, fuel-efficient bus projects from the drawing board to the street, we move the nation closer to energy independence and a cleaner environment."

Other projects being funded this year include an effort to develop a smaller, less costly and more durable fuel cell power system that will enable commercialization of U.S. fuel cell buses, and an effort to develop and demonstrate a lightweight highly efficient bus that incorporates an improved hybrid-electric drive and enhanced bus design.

The purpose of the program is to facilitate the development of commercially viable fuel cell bus technologies and increase public acceptance of the fuel cell vehicles. The program is one of three environmentally friendly FTA grant competitions whose winners have been recently announced. The others are the Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) and the Clean Fuels programs.

A complete list of Fuel Cell Bus Program projects being funded can be found at http: http://www.fta.dot.gov/news/news_events_12231.html

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FTA awards $16.6 million in grants for fuel cell bus research