April 8, 2021

Partnership between clean energy innovators could lead to exponential growth in use of hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles in the transportation industry.

Canton, Ohio and Mountain View, CA April 7,2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – NICE America Research, Inc. (NICE America), a clean energy technology incubator, and The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA), a global leader in the deployment of hydrogen fuel cell-powered (HFC) public transit vehicles, are conducting a three-month demonstration project that will test NICE America’s groundbreaking mobile submerged pump liquid hydrogen refueling unit under real-world conditions. Both Dr. Anthony Ku, Nice America’s Chief Technology Officer and SARTA CEO Kirt Conrad believe NICE America’s system has the potential to drive exponential growth in the use of HFC power in the transportation industry.

During the demonstration period, a NICE America submerged pump mobile unit that has been installed at SARTA’s Canton, Ohio headquarters will be used to refuel the transit system’s fleet of 10 full-size and 5 paratransit HFC-powered buses. The Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) is providing additional support for the project by facilitating collaboration and monitoring performance of the system. NICE America leverages Bulldog Energy Providers (BEP) equipment and operation expertise to ensure that the day-to-day operation is safe, reliable, and trouble-free.

Mr. Conrad said he agreed to partner with NICE America on the project because he believes the technology is a gamechanger that will enable HFC vehicles to capture a vastly increased share of the rapidly growing alternative fuel market in the years ahead. “Problems associated with fueling put HFC vehicles at a serious disadvantage compared to battery electrics from a testing, sales, and operational standpoint,” he said. “The NICE system may be the key to evening the playing field which will enable transit systems to focus on the many ways H2 is superior to plug-in power.”

“Transit systems exploring zero-emission options naturally gravitate toward battery electrics because the technology is simple and easy to understand,” he continued. “A manufacturer sends you a bus. You plug it in, charge it, and test it for as long as you want. When the testing period ends you order a bunch of them, upgrade your electrical grid, and you’re done.”

“By contrast, conducting a long-term test of an HFC bus has been difficult, if not impossible,” Mr. Conrad said. To overcome the problem Mr. Conrad, who is recognized as one of the world’s most ardent evangelists for HFC technology, has allowed transit agencies across the nation to “borrow” and operate one of SARTA’s H2 vehicles and to review the hundreds of thousands of miles worth of data SARTA has collected while operating them on the highways and streets of Stark County in every weather condition imaginable.  

“We can demonstrate that our HFC buses deliver much greater range than battery electrics, are both more reliable and affordable to operate, remove tons of pollutants from the air, and, perhaps most importantly from an operational standpoint, take only minutes to refuel,” he continued. “All of which leads to the obvious conclusion that hydrogen is the best clean energy solution available today.” Mr. Conrad said.

“But no matter how impressed or excited people become once they learn about the technology and operate a bus, refueling related issues tamp down their enthusiasm,” Mr. Conrad said. “Transit officials from Spokane, Washington to Fort Lauderdale, Florida have all said fueling issues are the main reason they are hesitant to add HFC vehicles to their fleets. I am confident Nice America’s system is going to change the conversation, change minds, and change the composition of fleets in systems from coast to coast.”

Dr. Ku agrees.  “The high upfront capital costs associated with constructing fixed refueling infrastructure makes it difficult for transit agencies to gradually acquire and deploy HFC vehicles,” Dr. Ku said. “Our mobile unit addresses this challenge. We can pull it up, set it up, and quickly begin refueling buses. This will give agencies time to accumulate real-world performance data and gradually grow their HFC fleets, while they prepare to build out permanent liquid hydrogen refueling stations that feature our submerged pump system and enable truly safe, efficient, and high-capacity operation.

“The SARTA demonstration project is an important step in developing an ecosystem of partners to support transit agencies that decide using HFCs will enable them to achieve their renewable energy goals,” Dr. Ku said. “We firmly believe our system will serve as the bridge to a hydrogen fuel cell-powered zero emission future in communities across the United States.”

“Reducing capital costs and increasing efficiency is critical for the advancement of hydrogen fuel cell technology,” said Dan Raudebaugh, Executive Director of CTE. “We look forward to helping demonstrate that the NICE system will make it easier for transit agencies to test H2  vehicles as they strive to reach their zero emission goals.”

NICE America Research Inc. is a subsidiary of National Institute of Clean-and-low-carbon Energy (NICE), a corporate research arm of China Energy Investment Corporation. NICE America’s mission is to develop and adapt the next generation of clean energy technologies for both the US and Chinese markets to support the transition to a decarbonized future.  NICE America has developed a technology platform using submerged liquid hydrogen pumps to enable rapid, low-cost refueling in fuel cell vehicle applications.


SARTA is an international leader in the development and deployment of zero emission technology in the transportation space. The Canton, Ohio-based transit system which owns and operates one of the largest fleets of hydrogen fuel cell-powered buses in the Western Hemisphere has received Calstart’s prestigious Blue Sky Award and numerous other honors for its commitment to innovation, sustainability, and renewable energy. To learn more about SARTA’s hydrogen fuel cell program visit


The Center for Transportation and the Environment is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to improve the health of our climate and communities by bringing people together to develop and commercialize clean, efficient, and sustainable transportation technologies. CTE collaborates with federal, state, and local governments, fleets, and vehicle technology manufacturers to complete our mission. Learn more at CTE | Advancing Sustainable Transportation Solutions.


Bulldog Energy Providers offers business consulting, mechanical/electrical design, equipment assembly, and testing of systems for the hydrogen energy space.  We believe all the hydrogen technologies available to the market are going to ensure hydrogen’s long term success.

Contacts for SARTA: Kirt Conrad, CEO, [email protected]

Contacts for NICE America: Jordan McRobie, Director – Business Development, [email protected]

Contacts for Bulldog Energy Providers—Erik Hansen, Owner, [email protected]

Contact for CTE: Chloe Durham, Communications Specialist, [email protected]