Hydrogen fueled bus coming to Ithaca

A Tompkins County bus could drive Ithaca to the forefront of a green transportation revolution.

Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) will get a demonstration hydrogen fuel-cell bus—the first in New York State—in late 2014 

Driving Hydrogen Power to Ithaca

October 16, 2013

Hydrogen fueled bus coming to Ithaca

A Tompkins County bus could drive Ithaca to the forefront of a green transportation revolution.

Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) will get a demonstration hydrogen fuel-cell bus—the first in New York State—in late 2014, thanks to recent funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation. At the same time, a hydrogen station will open nearby to fuel the bus and other fuel-cell vehicles. The Ithaca facility will be the first public hydrogen station in upstate New York and one of only a dozen in the country. 

Paul Mutolo (EMC2)Dr. Paul Mutolo

ACSF Faculty Fellow Paul Mutolo (EMC2), a fuel cell chemist and director of external partnerships for the Energy Materials Center at Cornell, developed the federal grant proposal with TCAT and BAE Systems of Endicott, New York, a manufacturer of hybrid propulsion systems. AVF seed funding to study sustainable hydrogen production, awarded by the Atkinson Center in 2012, was an essential launching pad for this broader effort to build an infrastructure for emissions-free driving.

Fuel cells produce electricity from a chemical fuel, so these electric vehicles have long ranges and fast refuel times. They are also highly efficient and carbon-free. Fuel-cell cars are not yet for sale, but several automakers plan to have cars in showrooms in the next two years. Mutolo is working with automakers to bring them to Ithaca as soon as 2015. 

Lack of fueling stations to support the new technology remains a major hurdle for the United States. Mutolo is committed to bringing hydrogen fueling stations to the Northeast. He launched a start-up, the Standard Hydrogen Corporation that will supply hydrogen to TCAT and the general public. Mutolo remarked:

The fueling station in Ithaca will generate hydrogen right on site, to be used by the TCAT bus and any other fuel-cell vehicle in town. It will be locally produced fuel, so economically it’s great. Plus it’s efficient, clean, and carbon-free.