Ad Astra Rocket Company Costa Rica (AARC CR) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the American rocket propulsion, Ad Astra Rocket Company, has announced the arrival of Costa Rica’s first hydrogen (H2) fuelled electric passenger bus.
The development of the bus was by Ad Astra, based in Guanacaste and manufacturing by Belgium’s Van Hool for US Hybrid Corporation, revealed the President and CEO of Ad Astra Rocket Company is retired Costa Rica’s very own NASA astronaut and inventor of the advanced plasma rocket propulsion, the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR®) technology, Dr. Franklin Chang.
The first behind-the-scenes look at the Nyuti, arriving at the Puerto Limon, to be moved to Guanacaste, where it will undergo several months of testing. Photos from Ad Astra Facebook page.
The bus, with a capacity of 35 passengers, can travel approximately 338 kilometers (210 miles) on 38 kg of compressed H2.
“Nyuti has arrived in Costa Rica and can be located in Puerto Limón. Nyuti comes from the indigenous Chorotega language of Guanacaste and it means ‘Star’. The stars are composed mainly of hydrogen,” Ad Astra said in a statement.
The bus is a result of the “Ecosistemas de Hidrógeno” (Hydrogen Ecosystem) project initiated by the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo (Recope) – state refinery – and then became a public private alliance with public financial Sistema de Banca para el Desarrollo and four private sector partners, Air Liquide, US Hybrid Corporation, Cummins Inc and Relaxury (a subsidiary of Purdy Motor S.A. de Costa Rica, the exclusive dealer for Toyota), under the guidance of Ad Astra.
The objective of this alliance is to generate “business experience on the use of hydrogen produced in the country from renewable energies,” explained Franklin Chang. “In this way, Costa Rica’s dependence on imported oil could be reduced.”
“Once the technological viability of hydrogen in Costa Rica is demonstrated, we are concerned with demonstrating financial viability and that the business, in addition to being self-sustaining, also generates profits,” Chang further explained.
The bus entered Costa Rica by way of the Puerto Limón (Caribbean coast), from the US Hybrid Corporation test facility in Windsor, in southern Connecticut, and will be transferred to the Ad Astra Rocket facility (in Guanacaste) where additional testing and integration protocols.
“Once these requirements are met, we will begin a demonstration phase of several months in various routes that allow us to gain field experience in operations,” said the former astronaut.
According to Chang, the vehicle will be showcased in Guanacaste within a radius of approximately 150 kilometers from the Ad Astra Rocket facilities (located in the proximity of the Liberia international airport).
Relaxury will be in charge of operating the bus in that province, in order to demonstrate the advantages of this type of transport, whose only byproduct is clean water vapor.
“Hydrogen vehicles are electric vehicles, similar to batteries,” Franklin Chang said.
According to Change, the difference between the two is that “the hydrogen vehicle produces its own electricity on board, rather than having to charge it from the electricity grid and store it in a battery.”
5 Facts about Costa Rica’s hydrogen bus
- Its name is ‘Nyuti’, which comes from the Chorotega indigenous language of Guanacaste and means ‘Estrella’ or “Star’. The stars are composed mainly of hydrogen.
- It is the first working hydrogen electric transport unit that working in Costa Rica.
- It is the first vehicle in Central America that works with a hydrogen battery and electric propulsion.
- It has zero carbon footprint.
- The company will use the vehicle as a first step to boost hydrogen transport in Costa Rica.
How does a hydrogen engine work?
A hydrogen vehicle is a vehicle that uses hydrogen as its onboard fuel for motive power. But, unlike an engine, a fuel cell doesn’t burn the hydrogen. Instead, it’s fused chemically with oxygen from the air to make water. In the process, which resembles what happens in a battery, electricity is released and this is used to power an electric motor (or motors) that can drive a vehicle.
While the hydrogen gas is very flammable, it is not burned. Instead, the gas is passed through a fuel cell stack that mixes the pure hydrogen with atmospheric oxygen to generate electric current. The electricity is then used to power one or more electric motors driving the wheels.