Have you heard the joke about running a bus with water from Lake Erie? Well, it’s no laughing matter these days. In fact, it’s scheduled to happen about a year from now. NASA’s Glenn Research Center actually plans to pump water from the Cleveland shore of Lake Erie and harvest its hydrogen to run a transit bus.


The hydrogen fueling station will be located in downtown Cleveland at the Great Lakes Science Center, the site of an existing wind and solar energy power sources. A unique, high-capacity electrolyzer will use these energy sources to separate nearby Lake Erie water to hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen will be used to operate a Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority bus built by United Technologies that is powered by fuel cells. The bus will be operated in revenue service and will be identified by the little bit of water coming out of the tailpipe.

“What we’re proposing is to give a full-scale demonstration of taking renewable energy off of a wind machine or photovoltaic grid, using that energy to power a water electrolyzer to break down water into hydrogen and oxygen and then use that hydrogen as a fuel in a fuel cell-powered vehicle,” says Paul Prokopius, an energy consultant and retired NASA fuel cell researcher.” He continues, “They produce water vapor and clean water – nothing else. It’s totally zero emission.”


“The project is more than a key technology demonstration,” says Valerie Lyons, project team leader and chief of Glenn’s Power and In-Space Propulsion Division. “It will be a great educational tool for the public and will serve as a catalyst to inspire new ideas and initiatives that can create many new jobs and manufacturing opportunities in Ohio,” she added.