Costa Rica is close to launching its first hydrogen-fueled bus, a prototype that could usher in a new, clean transportation system that reduces the import of hydrocarbons.
The bus, developed by U.S. Hybrid Corporation, has an electric motor fueled by hydrogen stored in a tank, according to José Castro, scientific director of Ad Astra in Liberia, Guanacaste.
“Traditional electric vehicles have a motor that gets its electricity from a battery. Hydrogen vehicles have an electric motor, but the electricity comes from a fuel cell fed by hydrogen and oxygen,” Castro explained.
The U.S. Hybrid Coporation bus is scheduled to begin running in June in Liberia. Its hydrogen-based transportation ecosystem was developed through an alliance with other businesses including the France-based multinational company Air Liquide; U.S. Hybrid Corporation and Cummins, both from the United States; and the Costa Rican company Relaxury.
“It’s a pilot project to assess the viability of a transport ecosystem, but the goal is more ambitious because we have have the production, storage, dispensing and use of hydrogen, all in a completely sustainable ecosystem,” Castro said.
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This development makes Costa Rica the second Latin American nation to develop hydrogen technology for transportation, behind Brazil, which ahas buses demonstrating the technology in Sao Paulo and Río de Janeiro.
In industrialized countries the technology is more advanced; the unique aspect of the Costa Rican process, however, is that the hydrogen is obtained by separating water molecules, which does not generate any pollutants. In industrialized countries, hydrogen is obtained from methane gas explosed to steam, which separates hydrogen from carbon. This liberates carbon, which pollutes the atmosphere, while to a small degree.
This article has been updated to accurately reflect the roles of the companies involved in the project. The original version incorrectly identified Ad Astra as a developer of the bus itself, along with other companies; in fact, U.S. Hybrid Corporation developed the bus, and Ad Astra and other companies developed the transportation ecosystem. We apologize for the error.