The H2Haul project (Hydrogen fuel cell trucks for heavy-duty, zero-emission logistics) has now been officially launched. A total of 16 heavy goods vehicles with fuel cells are to be tested in practice at several locations in Europe.
The trial will be deployed in Belgium, France, Germany and Switzerland. Element Energy coordinates the partially EU-funded project. For the planned test runs, “innovative” hydrogen filling stations with high-performance tanks are also to be set up, which will enable large quantities of hydrogen to be refilled quickly, according to the partners.
The project consortium includes Air Liquide, Eoly, H2 Energy, Hydrogen Europe, IRU Projects, ThinkStep and WaterstofNet. However, there are many other companies involved: The manufacturers Iveco, FPT Industrial (both belonging to CNH Industrial) and VDL ETS are to develop and build three truck models with up to 44 tons. The fuel cells for the trucks will come from the two German companies ElringKlinger and Hydrogenics as well as Powercell from Sweden.
In the test itself, the H2 trucks are to be operated by a German logistics company for the BMW Group, Coop, Colruyt Group, Carrefour and Air Liquide. The project will be financed by the European agency FCH JU (Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking) with 12 million euros over a period of five years.
“At EU level, heavy commercial vehicles account for 27 per cent of CO2 emissions from road transport, and the need to introduce innovative clean energy engines is obvious and urgent,” says Bart Biebuyck, CEO of FCH JU. The H2Haul project will demonstrate how fuel cells and hydrogen can be used to decarbonise the transport segment and support the European value chain.
Menno Kleingeld, Managing Director of VDL Enabling Transport Solutions (VDL ETS), said: “Early on, VDL has already invested in the application of hydrogen as a sustainable energy source for long haul transport solutions.” He explained the benefits to VDL in that, “through H2Haul, VDL, together with respected partners, is intending to gain more insight into the economical applicability of hydrogen sustainable transport solutions for the heavy-duty market.” Technically, he explained that the hydrogen fuel cell system will be based on the modular construction method that VDL uses for its vehicles. This is not only clearly advantageous for VDL, but also to other providers, as Kleingeld explained: “This means that the system can be easily integrated into other heavy-duty applications. It is strategically important for the European transport manufacturing industries to come up with an economically resource-efficient mass-deployable hydrogen system for the long haul heavy-duty transport market.”
Iveco and FPT are also working with the Nikola truck start-up following the entry of the parent company CNH. Earlier in September this year, we reported that CNH Industrial and US fuel cell truck maker Nikola are also planning to set up a European joint venture for fuel cell trucks. Nikola’s Tre is a fuel cell heavy-duty truck made specifically for European conditions that will eventually be developed through the joint venture in Europe. Bosch invested in Nikola soon after. Bosch has been an important development partner for fuel cells and battery technology for heavy trucks.
The H2Haul project will also see 16 vehicles tested in real-world operations at sites in Belgium, France, Germany, and Switzerland. Hydrogen stations will be deployed to offer high capacity fuelling to demonstrate the way fuel cell trucks can replace diesel vehicles.