Until now, Volvo Trucks had several models of battery-powered electric trucks in its offer. To complete this offer, the heavy vehicle manufacturer has started testing a new technology. With hydrogen fuel cells it is possible to achieve a autonomy of up to 1,000 kilometers, refueling in 15 minutes and transporting loads of up to 65 tons.
With the start of these tests, Volvo Trucks begins a development program that will culminate in the inclusion of these trucks in its offer in the second half of this decade. “We have been developing this technology for a few years and it is great to see the first trucks running successfully on the test track. The combination of electric battery and fuel cell will allow our customers to completely eliminate CO emissionstwo of their trucks, regardless of the type of transport,” says Roger Alm, President of Volvo Trucks.
In hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, electricity is generated thanks to the reaction that occurs between the hydrogen contained in the tanks and the oxygen in the air inside an electrochemical cell. As a residue it produces a small amount of water and heat. That electricity is stored in a small battery that is responsible for powering the electric motor or motors. Hydrogen is transported in one or more pressurized tanks and must be refilled at a refueling station in the same way as gasoline and diesel. In fact the filling process is practically the same.
Volvo Trucks is aware that fuel cell technology is still in its infancy. an early stage of development, that there are many benefits to it and also some challenges. One of them is the large-scale supply of green hydrogen and the other is the fact that the refueling infrastructure for heavy vehicles has not yet been developed.
Technically, the two fuel cells fitted to Volvo trucks have the capacity to generate 300 kW of electricity with which performance figures similar to those achieved with diesel trucks are achieved. The fuel cells will be supplied by Cellcentricthe joint venture between the Volvo Group and Daimler Truck AG, from one of Europe’s largest series production facilities for fuel cells specially developed for heavy-duty vehicles.
The testing program contemplates starting to introduce the trucks in your customers’ fleets in a few years. After this phase it will start marketing during the last years of this decade. “Hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric trucks will be especially well-suited for long distances and heavy, power-demanding tasks. They could also be an option in countries where battery charging possibilities are limited,” adds Alm.
“We expect the supply of green hydrogen to increase significantly over the next two years as many industries will rely on it to reduce COtwo. However, we cannot wait to decarbonise transport: my clear message to all transport companies is to start the journey today with battery electric, biogas and the other options available. Fuel cell trucks will be an important adjunct to longer and heavier hauls in a few years,” says Roger Alm.
While, other heavy vehicle manufacturers are also working in the same direction. Daimler it is working with Cummins to convert some of its older trucks to run on fuel cells, and has plans to develop a hydrogen semi-trailer expected later this decade. Long before, General Motors will collaborate with Navistar on a long-haul fuel cell truck. Toyota has been testing trucks powered by this technology at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for several years, and plans to make fuel cells in the United States for use in trucks. California is becoming a hub for US fuel cell truck deployment. hyundai plans to test its Xcient Fuel Cell trucks there and a trade group wants to put 70,000 fuel cell trucks on California roads by 2035.