Shipping and Logistics

Hydrogen Viable for Heavy Goods 

Earlier this month, a partnership of leading automotive technology companies confirmed its aim to radically overhaul the architecture of clean hydrogen powertrains to create a new and commercially competitive 44-tonne proof-of-concept truck for heavy goods vehicle manufacturers and operators. 

With funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre, together Viritech, Horiba Mira will meld their capabilities to deliver engineering solutions for the challenge of decarbonising the 500 000 HGVs currently in operation on UK roads. These currently produce a disproportionate 19% of all of the country’s transport emissions, a figure that is forecast to grow as the size of the national fleet increases.

Commercial alternative

A 44-tonne battery electric truck requires five tonnes of batteries, cutting the payload by up to 20% and costing £40,000 per year in lost revenue. Hydrogen fuel cells present a far more commercially viable alternative. The new team aims to optimise the architecture of hydrogen powertrain for the specific use case of an HGV and deliver a proof-of-concept truck for OEM and operator testing by late 2024.

As the lead partner, Viritech will bring its proprietary energy management hardware and software, optimised for fuel cell as prime mover, to target mass parity with HGV diesel powertrains to the project. The principle of using the fuel cell as the prime mover in the driveline is supported by Intelligent Energy’s latest generation of specialist fuel cells for heavy duty applications.

Engineering consultants Horiba Mira will bring its full vehicle engineering experience to bear by delivering the truck’s thermal systems modelling and engineering, systems integration and vehicle optimisation as well as validation and certification to the project.

Digital twin

With HGV viability critically linked to total cost of ownership (TCO) for operators, Horiba will be using its experience in developing a digital twin of the IceBreaker HGV with a driver-in-the-loop capability to pre-validate the vehicle’s TCO credentials.

Project IceBreaker is a short-term, high-momentum project that commences in October and focuses on the integration of developing technologies to deliver a working proof-of-concept vehicle in the short term.

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