Indicates the way to cost effective use of 100% hydrogen fuel for HGVs
17th April 2018 – Liverpool, UK – A truck with a combustion engine powered entirely from zero carbon hydrogen fuel will take to the roads later this year. Developed by hydrogen fuel pioneer ULEMCo, the converted VOLVO FH16 vehicle will use what is believed to be the first ‘zero’ emission combustion engine anywhere in the world. The 100% hydrogen combustion truck, with Mega Low Emissions (MLE), is designed to provide a dramatic demonstration of how hydrogen fuel can be deployed to decarbonise heavy goods vehicles efficiently and cost effectively.
Unlike other ‘hydrogen fuelled’ vehicles, the MLE truck uses hydrogen to power the vehicle using a combustion engine rather than via fuel cells and an electric motor. However, in common with fuel cell versions, there will be none of the usual emissions from hydrocarbons that impact on air quality – such as unburnt fuel, particulates, carbon monoxide etc., and the NOx levels will be immeasurably low. ULEMCo believes that using conventional engines and existing truck designs, rather than the full transformation needed for electrification, the time frame to the target of zero carbon emissions can be shortened significantly, at the same time dramatically reducing the cost of the change for customers.
By applying ULEMCo’s knowledge of the efficient combustion of hydrogen and the use of hydrogen fuel directly in combustion engines, a significant simplification of the vehicle emission control systems can be achieved. Using a modified conventional engine, the powertrain cost is minimised and the company is able to demonstrate that zero emissions can be achieved in commercial vehicles at an affordable cost.
ULEMCo has converted many vehicles from diesel to hydrogen dual-fuel, and these are in current active service around the UK. The demonstration vehicle will be the first all-hydrogen example, will have at least 300HP, and with 17kg of hydrogen on board, a range of just less than 300 km unloaded is expected. As hydrogen storage is the only additional hardware, a smaller reduction in payload is experienced than with other low emission approaches.
“We are hugely excited about the potential for hydrogen fuel as a route to faster achievement of zero carbon emission in commercial vehicles”, says Amanda Lyne, CEO of ULEMCo. “With this MLE demonstrator, co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, we are showing that 100% hydrogen fuel in combustion engines is a practical and cost effective option. It sits well alongside the hydrogen dual-fuel conversions that we have already implemented commercially.”
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ULEMCo Ltd is based in Liverpool, UK and was founded in 2014 as a spin out of Revolve Technologies, to commercialise intellectual property and capability in hydrogen combustion engine technology. The company retrofits vehicles, starting with diesel Ford Transit vans, and subsequently a whole range of large vans and HGVs to enable them to run on commercially available hydrogen. The technology allows vehicle fleet managers to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions to ultra-low levels, at the same time meeting stringent air quality emission standards.
Alongside various partners, ULEMCo already supports a fleet of nearly 40 vehicles across a range of hydrogen hubs in the UK with their hydrogen dual fuel approach, which mitigates the range anxiety of alternative low carbon alternatives; the vehicles will function fully in diesel mode if hydrogen is not available. The company is targeting commercial fleet retrofits, operating in urban areas such as refuse collection and local deliveries, where back to base refuelling can be implemented, or those in proximity to the growing number of publicly accessible stations in the UK and globally. ULEMCo’s growth plans include creating a hydrogen re-fuelling network to capitalise on the existing local infrastructure for this ‘green’ fuel.