This innovation will give valuable insights into the opportunities of hydrogen in the energy transformation alongside battery-electric solutions
Following the completion of a multi-stakeholder research project aimed at breaking new ground in hydrogen technology, the company has started testing the world's first fuel cell ariculated hauler prototype, the Volvo HX04. The results of the project will provide important insights into the possibilities provided by hydrogen and fuel cells as Volvo CE continues research for its future product development programs.
Besides battery-electric solutions, where Volvo CE is already offering the largest range of commercial products, the company’s efforts also include exploring the potential of electrification through hydrogen fuel cell technology. Now, an important milestone has been reached with the testing of a world-first emission free hydrogen fuel cell articulated hauler prototype, the Volvo HX04.
The Volvo HX04 is the result of a research project running between 2018 and 2022, with funding from FFI, a national collaboration between the Swedish Innovation Agency VINNOVA, Swedish Energy Agency, and Swedish Transport Administration, to support sustainable vehicle strategic research, innovation and development. Partners include Volvo CE, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, who provided specialist competence on driveline development and safety, and PowerCell Sweden, a developer of fuel cell-based hydrogen-electric power solutions.
Infrastructure for hydrogen is still in development, which means refueling the Volvo HX04 is an important aspect to solve in the project. Shell installed a state-of-the-art hydrogen refueling station at the Volvo CE test track in Braås. Both Shell and Volvo Group are founding members of H2Accelerate, a collaboration of companies working to foster conditions for the mass market roll-out of hydrogen trucks in Europe.
The fueling process for hydrogen vehicles is fast – the Volvo HX04 is charged with 12 kg hydrogen in circa 7,5 minutes, enabling it to operate for approximately four hours. Fuel cells work by combining hydrogen with oxygen and the resulting chemical reaction produces electricity which powers the machine. In the process, fuel cells also produce heat that can be used for heating of the cab. Fuel cells only emit one thing – water vapor.
In principle, a fuel cell works much like a battery except that it generates its own electricity from the hydrogen onboard as needed rather than being charged from an external source. Vehicles with fuel cell electric powertrains have an uptime, range, and fuelling time similar to that of combustion engine powered vehicles.
While battery-electric vehicles and biofuels are commercially available today – as more sustainable alternatives to diesel – commercialization of hydrogen-powered machines is expected during the second half of this decade. Source