Idaho National Laboratory marked a milestone in its efforts to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions with the recent addition of its first electric motor coach.
INL's fleet of roughly 85 motor coaches safely transports more than 1,600 employees a day to their work locations at the Department of Energy's INL Site and home again. Converting the laboratory's motor coach fleet to electric or hydrogen power is part of the laboratory's plan to eliminate or offset the sum of its carbon emissions by 2031.
The laboratory plans to purchase six electric motor coaches by 2026 and has approved nearly $2 million to add motor coach charging stations.
Motor Coach Industries (MCI), a subsidiary of NFI Group Inc. (NFI), built the electric motor coach for INL.
The vehicle benefitted from a long-standing collaboration between NFI and the laboratory. In 2019, an INL team helped New Flyer of America Inc., another subsidiary of NFI, validate the performance of its battery technology by charging its 60-foot transit bus with a 350-kilowatt high-power charging station. MCI also helped design a solar-powered ventilation system for the INL fleet that can save upwards of 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year.
Today, INL researchers work with the lab's Fleet Services department to demonstrate best practices for other municipalities and organizations looking to adopt electric motorcoaches. "We're working with the advanced vehicle test group on where to locate chargers and, based on the existing route, how many electric buses could we operate while meeting our criteria for evacuations and winter storms," said Ira Pray, INL Mission Support Services director.
The range for the new electric motor coach's 544-kilowatt-hour battery is about 200 miles. Each bus travels from 70 to 100 miles each day.
"The INL team has always been innovators in improving motor coach performance," said Brent Maitland, MCI's Vice President of Private Sales and Marketing. "MCI is pleased they have selected our J4500 CHARGE as their first electric coach as they begin their zero-emission journey. This vehicle will provide a reliable, quiet, comfortable and emission-free ride for INL employees."
"This electric motor coach is a big victory for INL's Net-Zero efforts," said Jhansi Kandasamy, INL's Net-Zero Program executive director. "It's a symbol for the entire laboratory of what we must accomplish over the next decade to reach zero greenhouse gas emissions."
Through the Net-Zero Program, the laboratory has committed to demonstrating for the world how a mixture of emissions-free technologies – including safe, secure advanced nuclear energy – can work in harmony with renewables to stem the impacts of climate change.