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Press Release 97-70

Sally V. Harrington
NASA Lewis Research Center
(Bus: 216/433-2037)


CLEVELAND, OH--NASA Lewis Research Center and the Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) will showcase the first hybrid electric transit bus at the 25th International Truck and Bus Meeting and Exposition to be held November 17-19, 1997, at the Cleveland Convention Center.

The state-of-the-art bus, which is powered by an electric motor and natural gas-fueled generator, promises increased fuel economy and emissions one-tenth of EPA standards. Clevelanders will get a firsthand look at the bus when it is put into passenger service as early as mid-1998.

"This project is a ‘down to Earth’ example of how NASA can use advanced technology to help the public," said Dr. Larry Viterna, chief of NASA Lewis’ Commercial Technology Office.

The goal of the $900,000 initiative, dubbed the Ohio Hybrid Bus Project, is to develop a vehicle that can operate under the severe stop-and-go nature of city driving, while emitting fewer pollutants and costing less to operate than a traditional diesel-powered bus.

In addition to initiating and managing the project, NASA Lewis provided key engineering support in the analysis and design of the vehicle’s power management and control system. Unlike conventional buses that consume much of their fuel while stopped in traffic or at bus stops, the NASA Lewis-developed vehicle controller allows the engine to continue running at near-peak efficiency. The resulting excess energy is then stored and later used for acceleration or to provide additional power for climbing hills.

NASA Lewis engineers also applied aerospace technology in designing the vehicle’s unique energy storage system that uses super capacitors. This innovative technology not only has much longer life than conventional batteries, but also provides exceptional capability to recover energy that would otherwise be lost during braking.

Passengers on the new bus will enjoy a more peaceful ride, as the electric motor will operate almost silently. Interior lighting and creature comforts such as heating and air conditioning will operate similarly to systems on current buses.

NASA Lewis worked with an all-Ohio consortium of businesses and government agencies to make the project a success. The major contributors included the Ohio Department of Development, which contributed funding for the project; Lincoln Electric, which supplied the electric motor; and Bowling Green State University, which designed and built the electric drivetrain. RTA supplied the bus used in the project and will oversee the testing of the 40-foot vehicle through early 1998.

"We’re pleased to be playing a part in such an exciting project," said Ron Tober, general manager of RTA. "In the future, buses like this could have a major impact on the transit industry."

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