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Fuel cell grant powers hydrogen-powered bus development

Federal officials visited BAE Systems near Binghamton recently to announce $13 million in grants for fuel cell-powered mass transit. The grants went to a range of manufacturers and transit agencies across the country.

At a refurbished IBM plant in Endicott, BAE’s Sean Murphy explained the zero emissions engines that are now being made there.

“The four components are a generator, so we need to generate electricity, being an electric motor that drives it.”

The power goes from the generator through inverters to the battery, and then to a motor that drives the wheels.

Under the Department of Transportation’s National Fuel Cell Bus Program, $90 million has been invested since 2006 in the development of buses powered by hydrogen cells.

Peter Rogoff is the federal transit administrator. He says the bus program has reduced the number of waivers from a Buy-America rule issued by the Department from 53 to just 3.

“Our whole program was built around changing that dynamic, about making the United States, and places like Endicott, New York, the leader in producing materials for the next generation of clean fuel vehicles for the world.”

With the grants, BAE is working on buses for Tompkins County’s transit authority and agencies in California and Ohio.