The SunLine Transit Agency has long operated its buses on alternative fuels, mostly compressed natural gas (CNG). Now SunLine is seeking to leverage its alternative-fuel experience by opening a testing center for what it calls "clean energy" transportation projects.

The Thousand Palm, CA-based agency has tested transportation equipment for some time, ranging from new CNG engines to ozone-reducing catalysts. That activity escalated in April 2000 when SunLine opened a hydrogen generation and education facility. Now the agency has formalized its test center business activity, said SunLine gm & CEO Richard Cromwell.

"We have expanded our core mission from providing innovative public transit and community services to include advancing the commercialization of clean fuels and clean energy technologies and so have established the SunLine Beta Test Center for Advanced Energy Technologies," he said.

SunLine said its test programs would encompass clean transportation fuels and infrastructure as well as distributed generation technologies. The work will include testing fuel-cell vehicles and insulated pressure vessels that accommodate liquid or gaseous fuels; hydrogen generation equipment including electrolyzers, reformers, and solar systems; and distributed generation technologies such as microturbines, stationary fuel cells, and lean-burn engines.