DCU helps launch Ireland’s first fuel cell electric bus

Devin Sean Martin

Ireland’s first fuel cell electric bus, designed with DCU research and technology in sustainable fuel, has just begun its first trial. 

As part of a Hydrogen Mobility Ireland (HMI) project, the bus will travel the route between DCU and Dublin Airport in November and December, carrying limited passengers due to Covid-19 public transportation restrictions. 

DCU will assist in recording emissions and passenger feedback during the trial. 

“This is a cutting-edge technology that promises to make a huge contribution to the Climate challenge in Ireland, specifically in the Transport Sector,” a DCU statement said.

The bus is powered by a 60 kilowatt Toyota fuel cell stack that will run on green hydrogen made up of renewable electricity and water. 

No such vehicle powered by this technology has ever driven the streets of Ireland before.

The trial, which has been running since early November and will conclude in mid-December, is designed to observe how the new renewable power source operates in varying weather and traffic conditions. 

The trial will also demonstrate the effectiveness of the sensors used to gather the buses emissions and performance information, which were designed by DCU’s Insight Centre for Data Analytics team. 

“Dublin City University is devoted to creating a sustainable world, not only by placing sustainability at the core of all of our activities but through our research, academic expertise and industry collaborations,” said DCU President Daire Keogh. 

“The Bus trial is testament to this and DCU is delighted to play an active part” said Keogh

HMI Chair Mark Teevan echoes Keogh’s excitement.  “This should be viewed as an important event, not because it’s the first H2 bus on the road; but because it is a first step into the future for Ireland, enabling us to begin to envisage the practical solutions that will allow us to fully decarbonise road transport,” he said.

Following the HMI’s trial, the National Transport Authority (NTA) plans to roll out their own trial of several double-decker buses with a similar power source early next year. HMI Northern Ireland also has plans to launch a similar trial for Belfast routes. 

Full-scale implementation of these buses will likely not begin until all of these trials are completed, which might not be until 2022, according to a DCU statement.

“We are all very conscious of the environmental challenge we face in meeting our 2030 targets and the need to find zero-emissions solutions,” Teevan said.

“We are delighted that Dublin has been selected to host the very first trial of the prototype fuel cell bus.”

Devin Sean Martin

Image Credit: Craig Shaaban