Trial makes the case for hydrogen fleets
Image credit: HyTime-Aberdeen City Council
Investment in hydrogen supply infrastructure for commercial vehicles would not only cut diesel carbon emissions but also improve local air quality, a trial has concluded.
Over 14 tonnes of CO2 was saved in a two-year trial involving just 11 urban trucks and vans converted for dual-fuel operation.
With between 20 and 45 per cent of the diesel fuel being displaced by green hydrogen on the various vehicles, the HyTIME project (hydrogen truck implementation for maximum emissions reductions) concluded that with the appropriate hydrogen infrastructure, fleet-wide roll-out could provide “a huge and timely step-change” in overall fleet emissions.
In the trial, hydrogen commercial vehicle conversion company ULEMCo converted four refuse trucks, a road sweeper, a patient transport vehicle, four panel vans and a refrigerated van to run on hydrogen as a dual fuel.
During the trial period, nearly 60,000km were covered and 1,619kg of hydrogen used.
One of the partners working with ULEMCo on the HyTIME project was Aberdeen City Council, which took delivery of the world’s first hydrogen dual-fuel road sweeper, as well as two Merc Econic refuse trucks, and has gone on to put several more of these on the roads since.
The demonstrated benefits would have been even more dramatic had the hydrogen infrastructure been more developed. Project data show that the CO2 saving would have been about 45 tonnes per annum across the 11 vehicles. When the vehicles were not using hydrogen in their day-to-day operations, the principal reason was the lack of available refuelling facilities.
Other conclusions from the work were that tailpipe emissions in a number of specific applications such as refuse trucks were significantly better than the Euro 6 base vehicles, with the NOx emissions reduced by 29-85 per cent across the range of cycles tested. If deployed full-time, the vehicles would not only save carbon but also provide improvements to local air quality.
At least 96 per cent of the hydrogen used in the trial came from on-site electrolysis using renewable electricity.
The drivers and operators confirmed that, from an operational point of view, the vehicles “fitted well with their daily operation”, but said that reliability of the hydrogen infrastructure and fuel availability needed to be improved to get the most from the technology.
Amanda Lyne, managing director of ULEMCo agreed: “The trial was an excellent opportunity for us to show the diverse range of commercial vehicles that can be hydrogen-enabled. This provides a route to reducing GHG emissions significantly across fleets of heavy-use and heavy-duty vehicles without requiring the operators to make major changes to their usual operations. A number of the partners including Aberdeen City Council are continuing to use the vehicles at locations where the hydrogen infrastructure is more reliable. All partners agreed that if this was available for them too, they would have continued to do the same.”
The company says it is seeing latent demand across a number of fleet customers that would help build the base loads and the commercial case for faster development of the fuelling infrastructure.
The HyTIME project was part of the Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial (LEFT) to investigate the practical deployment of hydrogen-powered vehicles in the UK. The LEFT work was partly funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) in partnership with Innovate UK, and included independent testing of the overall emissions of a number of the vehicles in the project.
Liverpool-based ULEMCo was founded in 2014 to commercialise intellectual property and capability in hydrogen combustion engine technology. It is targeting commercial fleet conversions to grow the market into other vehicle types over the longer term. The company fitted the propulsion system for Fife Council’s groundbreaking dual-fuel hydrogen refuse trucks in 2016.
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