Upcoming hydrogen fuel cell semis from Volvo will have a 621-mile range

Tudor Cibean

Posts: 92   +6
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The big picture: Hydrogen fuel cell trucks could become a great alternative to battery-powered electric semis in the future. They feature a range and load capacity closer to diesel-powered trucks, with refueling being far quicker than charging an EV. However, hydrogen production and distribution don't always use renewable sources, meaning it's not necessarily a "green" solution.

Volvo's truck manufacturing division has just announced that it's testing vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The company claims these trucks will have an operational range of up to 1,000 km (621 miles), a refueling time of under 15 minutes, and a total weight (including freight) of over 65 tons.

If those figures are accurate, it sounds like an attractive alternative to battery-powered electric semis for long hauling. For comparison, the Tesla Semi has an advertised range of up to 800 km (497 miles) and will reportedly take over 30 minutes to charge at a megawatt charging station.

Each truck will come equipped with two hydrogen fuel cells that can generate 300 kW of electricity onboard. CellCentric, a joint venture between Volvo Group and Daimler, will be the supplier of these cells.

The advantage of using hydrogen as a fuel is that it only emits water vapor instead of polluting exhaust fumes. However, the energy used in producing hydrogen (or rather, separating it from other elements) doesn't necessarily have to come from renewable sources. In fact, the vast majority of hydrogen generation is based on fossil fuels nowadays.

Another problem is the limited availability of hydrogen refueling stations. There are under 60 stations operational in the US at the moment, with all of them being in California. That number will supposedly only double over the next year.

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scavengerspc

Posts: 2,579   +2,803
TechSpot Elite
"Green" is not so important when an alternative will be much less black. One step at a time.

It's going to be very difficult to implement compared to a charging station though. And very costly.

Valero has added 4 EV charging stations at a location in Little Rock, and all it cost as far as facilitation was a new higher capacity breaker box.
 
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defaultluser

Posts: 409   +332
And how many decades will it take before we have even Half the number of H2 filling stations as Diesel?

Second, why even bother with Methane to H2 overhead , when you could just follow the Methane bus Congo-line?

 
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George Keech

Posts: 175   +287
And how many decades will it take before we have even Half the number of H2 filling stations as Diesel?

Second, why even bother with Methane to H2 overhead , when you could just follow the Methane bus Congo-line?

It could be argued they dont need them. Cars use Diesel, most engineers in the space now seem confident that hydrogen is going to have a massive place in the future (once it become green/Blue). However this will be on commercial and big vehicles that need the longer ranges.

Think about it if its mainly Trucks, Tankers and Diggers that need Hydrogen then it isnt like every petrol station needs one. Maybe transport hub etc.

All comes down to getting it green from source. but its certainly a piece of the puzzle
 

JKnight

Posts: 189   +315
The hardest thing to convert to all electric is planes, trains, and trucks. This could be a viable option for trucks. Since truck are driven millions of miles I don't see them with massive batteries that need to be replaced frequently.
 

Lew Zealand

Posts: 2,147   +2,587
TechSpot Elite
The hardest thing to convert to all electric is planes, trains, and trucks. This could be a viable option for trucks. Since truck are driven millions of miles I don't see them with massive batteries that need to be replaced frequently.
Trains and trucks can be done as the weight of the batteries can be offset. Planes? Those will be burning kerosene for a long long time. It's all about energy density for planes and liquid hydrocarbon fuel will be close to impossible to beat.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,756   +7,669
The hardest thing to convert to all electric is planes, trains, and trucks. This could be a viable option for trucks. Since truck are driven millions of miles I don't see them with massive batteries that need to be replaced frequently.

FYI: Europe already has an abundance of electric trains and now trucks as well. Doubtful that any planes (as we know them now) lend themselves to electrification but future .....
 

netman

Posts: 775   +335
"The company claims these trucks will have an operational range of up to 1,000 km (621 miles), a refueling time of under 15 minutes, and a total weight (including freight) of over 65 tons."

This is the First Time a company mentions the weight in defining the the operational range...! Congratulation Volvo...!

For comparison read the next paragraph for Tesla...!
 

Lew Zealand

Posts: 2,147   +2,587
TechSpot Elite
Electricity used to charge batteries is almost never from a green or renewable source. However burning fossil fuels in a power plant to get electricity is more efficient and produces less pollution than burning fuel in a truck or car, so there is still a net positive to electric vehicles.

Even burning just coal in a new coal plant for electricity for an electric car can be more efficient than burning gasoline in a car though the pollution ROI on that is around 15 years, so not great. Just converting to a 100% natural gas electrical source (so still fossil fuel), brings the pollution ROI for an electric car down to ~7 years.
 

Ludak021

Posts: 687   +508
Weight of the vehicle is very important in the trucking industry. Trucks have limits on total weight, so wight of a diesel truck without load is a starting benchmark, everything above that weight cuts into the freight weight. I am seeing Volvo listing 65 tons weight per truck. They haven't specified what that weight includes. Diesel 18 wheeler is around 18 tons and can't be more than 36.2 tons (total) loaded.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,699   +6,640
The problem with hydrogen is that it's not an energy source, it's just an energy storage medium. It is still heavily dependent on that black. However if converting oil to hydrogen is a net positive in terms of pollution (compared to gasoline) then it's still a step in the right direction.
The jury is out on whether converting oil/fossil fuels to hydrogen is cleaner than burning gasoline. As I understand it (not that I am an authority on the matter), the process of going from fossil fuels to hydrogen is, in general, dirtier. Perhaps the cleanest source is termed "blue hydrogen" and this paper is referenced from this article both discuss the subject if you care to take the time to read either.

EDIT: The articles I referenced are decidedly negative - one is a summary of the other.
 
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bexwhitt

Posts: 591   +305
Electricity used to charge batteries doesn't always use renewable sources, meaning EV's are not necessarily a "green" either.
EV's are more for removing pollution from urban areas, anyone who thinks they are green is deluded.
 

Lew Zealand

Posts: 2,147   +2,587
TechSpot Elite
EV's are more for removing pollution from urban areas, anyone who thinks they are green is deluded.

EVs are greener than gas burners as the conversion of fossil fuel to electricity and delivery to the customer is more efficient at a power plant than burning gasoline. Especially if your power generation is less than 50% coal, which it is in the vast majority of locations. And they're way greener than hydrogen if you read the papers wiyosaya linked above. Hydrogen economy's not so good.
 

Mr Majestyk

Posts: 1,215   +1,110
The problem with hydrogen is that it's not an energy source, it's just an energy storage medium. It is still heavily dependent on that black. However if converting oil to hydrogen is a net positive in terms of pollution (compared to gasoline) then it's still a step in the right direction.

Well there has just been a huge breakthrough here in Australia on electrolysis that reduces the costs by 75% over existing tech and will drop the price of green hydrogen down to less than blue or grey hydrogen. This technology is basically ready to roll not 10 years down the track. Hopefully it takes off and we see a green hydrogen revolution. We are setting up green hydrogen hubs on the East coast of Australia and will be supplying the steel works for example to change over to clean steel, running heavy vehicles on fuel cells etc.

But I agree if this is using blue or grey hydrogen it's not as appealing, although emissions will be lower overall than an ICE burning diesel.
 

Sathi43

Posts: 33   +44
Electricity used to charge batteries doesn't always use renewable sources, meaning EV's are not necessarily a "green" either.
But it's greener than ICE. For example, thermal efficiency of a typical diesel Powerplant is upwards of 80% while the typical diesel vehicle is barely 30-35%. Even after we factor in the energy loss during grid transmission and battery charging cycle and the carbon footprint of battery manufacturing(total comes to around 20%) EV still comes ahead in green-ness.
 

NumberSix

Posts: 141   +191
EVs are greener than gas burners as the conversion of fossil fuel to electricity and delivery to the customer is more efficient at a power plant than burning gasoline. Especially if your power generation is less than 50% coal, which it is in the vast majority of locations. And they're way greener than hydrogen if you read the papers wiyosaya linked above. Hydrogen economy's not so good.

It takes 10s of thousands of kilometres for an EV to be more carbon neutral that a petrol car, you have still got to make the car and all those batteries to go in to it and they you have to keep your fingers crossed all of the electricity is coming from renewable sources. You also have to keep in mind a petrol (or diesel) car will still be doing what it did when you bought it for decades to come if it is maintained well enough, An EV on the hand is limited to the lifespan of its cells and when they are knackered a new one is probably going to cost multiple times what the car is worth, so you buy a new car and the carbon cycle for the EV starts again.

I'm not dismissing EVs at all but it isn't as clear cut as buying one and being instantly green.
 

mbk34

Posts: 307   +202
Electricity used to charge batteries is almost never from a green or renewable source.
You should really state what country you're from. Some countries are getting over 80% of their energy from renewable sources (wind, solar, etc). Even here in the UK we're getting around 40% from renewables (depending on which figures you believe). The US produces 10% from renewables which is about the same as India. Perhaps you should be asking your government why you're not moving more towards renewables.
 

gamerk2

Posts: 697   +668
It takes 10s of thousands of kilometres for an EV to be more carbon neutral that a petrol car, you have still got to make the car and all those batteries to go in to it and they you have to keep your fingers crossed all of the electricity is coming from renewable sources. You also have to keep in mind a petrol (or diesel) car will still be doing what it did when you bought it for decades to come if it is maintained well enough, An EV on the hand is limited to the lifespan of its cells and when they are knackered a new one is probably going to cost multiple times what the car is worth, so you buy a new car and the carbon cycle for the EV starts again.

I'm not dismissing EVs at all but it isn't as clear cut as buying one and being instantly green.

Except it is; every single study that has looked at the issue has found the same thing: Even factoring in how dirty mining Lithium is, it's still an order of magnitude more green then the entire oil drilling infrastructure currently in place.
 

Lew Zealand

Posts: 2,147   +2,587
TechSpot Elite
You should really state what country you're from. Some countries are getting over 80% of their energy from renewable sources (wind, solar, etc). Even here in the UK we're getting around 40% from renewables (depending on which figures you believe). The US produces 10% from renewables which is about the same as India. Perhaps you should be asking your government why you're not moving more towards renewables.

I'm in the US but parts of the US are over 80% fossil and other parts are under 20%, so it's still all locally-dependent.
 

Lew Zealand

Posts: 2,147   +2,587
TechSpot Elite
It takes 10s of thousands of kilometres for an EV to be more carbon neutral that a petrol car, you have still got to make the car and all those batteries to go in to it and they you have to keep your fingers crossed all of the electricity is coming from renewable sources.

And after those KM which are easily achievable, the EV is less carbon-generating than a gas car, even if it's never used again. And there is no finger-crossing about renewable sources as EVs are still less carbon-generating that a petrol/gas car even when using a natural gas plant as the electricity source. You can even break even using 100% COAL as the EV's electricity source but it takes about 17 years worst-case, so that's not great for those people living in West Virginia.

You also have to keep in mind a petrol (or diesel) car will still be doing what it did when you bought it for decades to come if it is maintained well enough, An EV on the hand is limited to the lifespan of its cells and when they are knackered a new one is probably going to cost multiple times what the car is worth, so you buy a new car and the carbon cycle for the EV starts again.

Vehicles tend to increase their pollution as engines get older and develop more leaks and wear and it's not like you're not spending $ maintaining that vs. needing to buy a new battery and its associated carbon load. However remember that battery generation tech is also becoming less carbon-intensive over time so that replacement battery will also have a lower carbon footprint that the original.

I'm not dismissing EVs at all but it isn't as clear cut as buying one and being instantly green.

Instantly isn't the point, whether a few *****s believe that or not. But the intent to reduce your carbon footprint and crossing that threshold in 5 to 7 years on average is very much the point.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 2,353   +2,869
TechSpot Elite
Toyota and Volvo got it right with hydrogen vehicles. Lithium-Ion batteries are problematic because they can't be properly recycled. Hydrogen just produces water vapour. If mass-adoption takes place, it would help to offset the droughts caused by climate change.
 

Tantor

Posts: 314   +577
I have read that a fully loaded liquid hydrogen tank weighs about 2.5 times that of a diesel tank with comparable energy content, but don't quote me on that number! That's due to two factors. Hydrogen volumetric energy density is about 1/5 that of diesel. The tank needs to hold five times the volume. Also, the high pressure require much heavier tank construction and extra hardware.

A fully loaded 120 gallon diesel tank weighs about 800 lbs and is good for about 800 miles at 7 miles/gallon. I think the Volvo hydrogen tank may be around 2000 lbs.
 

Tantor

Posts: 314   +577
You should really state what country you're from. Some countries are getting over 80% of their energy from renewable sources (wind, solar, etc). Even here in the UK we're getting around 40% from renewables (depending on which figures you believe). The US produces 10% from renewables which is about the same as India. Perhaps you should be asking your government why you're not moving more towards renewables.

Not quite true. You're correct that 40% of UK electrical energy comes from renewables. But the majority of energy usage is not electrical, so that 40% gets much smaller. For example gas heating, automobiles and other industrial energy uses are not powered by renewables, and most likely will never be powered by renewables.

If you look at all UK energy usage, about 12% comes from renewable resources. Wind is the only one that's increasing. Solar is way down from what it was in the late 1990's. Biofuels is another renewable that's on the decline. Whereas the traditional sources like gas, oil and nuclear have been stable for many years at somewhere over 80%. They gradually swapped out gas for coal, but that's the only major change.

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/...-source-and-region?time=earliest&country=~GBR