The Million Mile Fuel Cell Truck Consortium (M2FCT), launched by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO), has highlighted just how instrumental hydrogen fuel cells could be in decarbonising heavy-duty vehicles.
In a recent study, the consortium said hydrogen fuel cells are well suited to the industry due to the faster refuelling times as well as the long driving range capabilities. Significantly, the fuel cells also contain a higher amount of energy-per unit mass than a lithium battery or diesel fuel.
To take advantage of this potential market, M2FCT will work on fuel cells for heavy-duty fuel cell trucks that can meet all of the efficiency, durability, and cost requirements of the trucking industry.
With $50m funded by DOE HFTO over five years, a team of five national labs co-led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) have set out with a 2030 goal of demonstrating systems that have a 25,000 hour or one-million-mile, lifetime for long-haul trucks.
Ahmet Kusoglu, a Berkeley Lab Scientist, said, “Transitioning to hydrogen fuel cell heavy-duty vehicles would have a significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
“Heavy-duty vehicles make up a small fraction of the vehicle fleet in the US and travel only 10% of the total annual vehicle miles driven but contribute to 23% of transportation emissions of greenhouse gases in the US.”
“Moreover, HDVs account for almost one-quarter of the fuel consumed annually in the US.”
The M2FCT consortium brings together different areas of expertise related to fuel-cell efficiency and durability and harmonises activities with industrial developers.
While the initial focus of this study is on how to meet the targets for hydrogen-fuelled long-haul tractor trailer trucks, M2FCT researchers are also optimistic about the potential adoption of hydrogen fuel cells in other, more demanding heavy-duty applications including trains, maritime, and even aviation.