Orlando International Airport is taking great strides to become an environmentally friendly airport by testing shuttle vans that run on hydrogen. The Ford E-450 buses are powered by a 6.8-liter V-10 supercharged engine modified to only run on hydrogen. This project has two goals, first to get average consumers acquainted with hydrogen, and secondly to acquire data on the buses’ performance in a setting where they are nearly in constant use. The use of hydrogen makes the buses approximately 12 percent cleaner than gasoline or diesel.
Ronald Lewis, Director of Airport Operations said, “Hydrogen is one of the many technologies we are exploring, trying to become more of a green airport.”
The hydrogen is produced onsite and consists of many partners hoping to greatly increase the demand for hydrogen. Chevron, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, Ford Motor Company, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Progress Energy, and SeaWorld are all taking part in the project.
“We are doing a process called steam methane reforming, which is natural gas to hydrogen,” said Puneet Verman, Manager of Biofuels and Hydrogen at Chevron Technology Ventures. “The ultimate goal is hydrogen fuel cell cars. The hydrogen internal combustion engine buses are much less expensive to manufacture, but they consume a lot more hydrogen?we view the hydrogen efforts as a technical success. This is the first time we have been able to demonstrate actual production of hydrogen at the station. It’s not necessarily an economic success yet.”
SeaWorld also employs hydrogen buses to transport employees from the parking lots to various work sites across the park. Jay Tracey of SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove said, “Somebody has to get the ball rolling. Until somebody takes that first step, there’s always going to be the ‘what if?’”
For more information on Florida’s hydrogen projects, visit this site.