C+S July 2020 Vol. 6 Issue 7 (web)

Fuel-cell electric bus technology has made tremendous progress, benefiting from advances in battery electric technology. Recently in- troduced FCEBs with a battery dominant configuration have exceeded 350 miles with a single fueling in depot. That meets the criteria for a typical transit agency’s duty cycle. Also, the ambient temperature has no major impact on the range of a FCEB. The cost of FCEBs and hydrogen fuel are coming down as the two technologies compete to reduce the total life cycle cost and improve their range to better match conventional vehicles. It is an exciting time, and I foresee that a combination of these two technologies will be used by transit agencies in achieving zero emis- sions mandates. Battery electric buses can be used during a transition period on shorter routes, and FCEBs can be used for heavily loaded and longer routes, all the while generating more operating and perfor- mance data to continuously improve their designs. Inspiration & Advice Q: How did you become interested in fleet electrification? A: My father was a chief engineer in India. In middle school, during the summer vacations, he took me to the sites where he was working on deep water drilling. Those huge rigs had Caterpillar engines, generators, and other mechanical parts which intrigued me. At that time, I thought of studying mechanical engineering. After college I had several jobs designing transmissions and hydraulic systems for heavy earthmoving machines, and I landed in the USAworking on trains and buses. As a reliability engineer working for a transit agency, I studied the failures of hydraulic systems for bus radiator fans that caused bus fires when the hoses failed and sprayed oil on a hot engine. In 1998, I up- dated the design of a bus cooling system by using electric motors, as one of the alternator manufacturers came out with a large 450 ampere

alternator driven by the engine. There were many challenges, but our team was able to successfully run the tests and got approval to retrofit more buses. After this success, there was no stopping in electrification of buses. I have worked with bus manufacturers in electrifying the air condi- tioning system driven by a generator. Then the hybrid- electric buses made it much easier to electrify all the other accessories like radiator fans, doors, air compressor and steering system. Currently at HDR, I’m working as a consultant to an equipment manufacturer in electrifying all the accessories on diesel and CNG buses. It’s an exciting time to be involved with testing, validation and explor- ing opportunities for battery-electric and fuel cell technologies in real world situations while giving feedback to the bus manufacturers to improve their designs. Q: What advice do you have for someone just starting to work in the transit field? A: Transit is going through a major evolution due to the introduction of new technologies like battery-electric, hydrogen fuel cells, connected and autonomous vehicles. It is a challenging yet exciting time and if you want to roll up your sleeves and have the hunger to learn, then jump in. You should not be scared to ask what you might think is a “stu- pid question”. Question-and-answer is the only way to learn about new systems and applications. I learned the most from front line workers like the mechanics and technicians who work on the problems every day. Hands-on experience will give you confidence and the ability to experiment. I had a few challenges with several engineering designs, but with support from the management and mechanics, I was able to deliver. Those challenges serve as lessons learned and will propel you to future success. and risk concerns. For some with access to a personal vehicle, driv- ing alone may seem like the safest choice. However, moving from the current situation to a better normal requires that public transportation remain the backbone of our cities to support sustainability, safety, public health, and equity goals. Holistic operations protocols to ensure public safety, integrating technology into existing systems across the customer journey, and leveraging available data can ensure public tran- sit remains a choice that passengers can make in confidence. The Case for Public Transit Deprioritizing public transit could have disastrous consequences in- cluding increased greenhouse gas emissions, rising highway fatalities, and exorbitant costs. For example, to replace the efficient capacity offered by public transportation in favor of vehicular travel, the Wash- ington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) estimated that the DC metro area would require 1,000 lane-miles of new pavement on


As states across the country begin reopening their economies, many individuals will have difficult choices to make about how and when to travel, weighing personal convenience and cost with public health


july 2020


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