Volvo Trucks showcased its next innovation in reducing global emissions this week, offering a first glimpse at its zero-emission Class 8 tractor powered by a hydrogen fuel cells.
Volvo says its hydrogen fuel cell tractors will only emit water vapor, produce their own electricity onboard and could have a range of up to 1,000 km (621 miles). The company hopes to add these CO2-neutral tractors to their product portfolio in the second half of this decade.
“We have been developing this technology for some years now, and it feels great to see the first trucks successfully running on the test track. The combination of battery electric and fuel cell electric will enable our customers to completely eliminate CO2 exhaust emissions from their trucks, no matter transport assignments,” says Roger Alm, president, Volvo Trucks.
In addition to an operational range comparable to many diesel trucks, hydrogen fuel cell trucks also could have a refueling time of less than 15 minutes. Volvo says the total weight can be around 65 tons or even higher, and the two fuel cells have the capacity to generate 300 kW of electricity onboard.
Customer pilots will start in a few years from now and commercialization is planned for the latter part of this decade.
“Hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric trucks will be especially suitable for long distances and heavy, energy-demanding assignments. They could also be an option in countries where battery charging possibilities are limited,” says Alm.
Regarding electricity production, Volvo says a fuel cell generates its own electricity from the hydrogen onboard instead of being charged from an external source. The only biproduct emitted is water vapor.
Additionally, the fuel cells will be supplied by cellcentric – the joint venture between the Volvo Group and Daimler Truck AG. Cellcentric will build one of Europe’s largest series production facilities for fuel-cells, specially developed for heavy vehicles, Volvo states.
Volvo admits fueling and service infrastructure for these tractors have a ways to go, but Alm is confident needs can be met.
“We expect the supply of green hydrogen to increase significantly during the next couple of years, since many industries will depend on it to reduce CO2. However, we cannot wait to decarbonize transport, we are already running late,” says Alm. “My clear message to all transport companies is to start the journey today with battery electric, biogas and the other options available. The fuel cell trucks will then be an important complement for longer and heavier transports in a few years from now.”