Hybrid bus getting campus test at BGSU
BOWLING GREEN, O.—What may be the future of commercial bus transportation is being tested this summer at Bowling Green State University.
The BGSU Shuttle Service is using a prototype hybrid bus to carry passengers on its main route and, more specifically, between the Visitor Information Center and Founders Hall, on opposite ends of campus.
The bus is equipped with patented Hybrid Booster Drive (HBD) technology, a proprietary diesel/electric propulsion system developed by the Electric Vehicle Institute (EVI) in BGSU’s College of Technology.
The system, which the University has licensed to Elkhart, Ind.-based Goshen Coach for possible commercial use, increases fuel mileage in vehicles that make frequent stops and starts by recovering energy normally lost during braking, storing it, and then using it to electrically assist acceleration.
In preliminary testing, HBD has helped produce fuel savings of up to 30 percent on a stop-and-go route, with a corresponding reduction in volume of pollutants. The technology also reduces brake wear in buses and shuttles by acting as a brake retardant during stops.
That combination of increased fuel economy and decreased brake wear is what sets the hybrid bus apart from a similar, but standard, Goshen bus that’s been part of the shuttle service fleet for several years, according to Fred Smith, shuttle manager. “I think it’s a far superior vehicle,” Smith said, noting the more than 50 percent increase in the per-gallon cost of diesel fuel in the last year.
He said the 31-passenger hybrid bus will probably cover about 300 miles per week through Aug. 19, after which it will return to the EVI. From 9-11 a.m. weekdays, the bus will run almost exclusively between the visitor center and Founders, site of the closest stop to the admissions office in McFall Center. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., it will travel the main shuttle route, which has 13 stops.
While several other shuttle buses will go on charter trips, the hybrid model will be the only one running a route this summer, Smith added. “We (BGSU) built it; I want to run it,” he enthused.
“Fred is interested in making it work well for us,” said Anthony Palumbo, the EVI’s chief of operations. “It’s important that we get test data from passenger service.”
Putting miles on the bus this summer will help determine what refinements will be needed back at the institute this fall. “At that point, we will do an inspection on the HBD components,” Palumbo said, pointing out that “a lot depends on what Goshen Coach needs to insure product durability.”
During the first stage of the licensing agreement, approved last October, BGSU and Goshen have worked jointly on an economic viability model for commercializing the HBD system. Later this year, Goshen plans to manufacture five HBD-equipped shuttles. One will be evaluated through the Federal Transit Administration’s testing center in Altoona, Pa., while the others are slated to go into monitored service. After the testing data and marketing research are evaluated to determine the project’s long-term viability, the project would go on to the third stage—production.
BGSU’s agreement with Goshen, a leading manufacturer of midsized commercial buses, marks the first time the University has licensed patented and other proprietary technology developed for potential commercial use.
The agreement is specifically for small and midsized buses. BGSU is seeking licensees for larger buses and other vehicle applications.
(Posted June 21, 2005 )