BMW-led Hycet consortium to develop hydrogen combustion trucks | New

Germany’s Federal Ministry for Digital Affairs and Transport has approved funding for BMW, in cooperation with five other partners, to develop technology for hydrogen-burning heavy-duty transport trucks. Rather than using fuel cell technology, the project is to develop hydrogen combustion engines for trucks, which in theory is a form of low-to-zero emissions propulsion.

The project is called Hycet (Hydrogen Combustion Engine Trucks) and has received 19.5 million euros ($19.3 million), of which 11.3 million euros comes from the German government. During Hycet, which is expected to last four years, Germany’s Federal Ministry for Digital Affairs and Transport will also provide €5.7 million for heavy-duty hydrogen refueling stations in Leipzig and Nuremberg. BMW’s partners on the project are Deutz, DHL Freight, Keyou, TotalEnergies Marketing Deutschland and Volvo Group.

“Hydrogen technology offers us the opportunity to rethink mobility,” said Daniela Kluckert, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Digital Affairs and Transport. “In particular, the varied requirements of transport logistics call for appropriate responses. Hydrogen is a good energy storage solution for climate-friendly transport that can complement battery-electric mobility.

The Hycet project is evaluating the use of hydrogen combustion engine technology for the transport of heavy goods. Kluckert said that the results obtained from real operations will contribute to the competition between alternative transmission technologies in the field of logistics. BMW has been working to green its inbound and outbound logistics operations, to make the delivery of its vehicles emission-free.

BMW does not manufacture trucks, so project partner Volvo Group will supply the vehicles, which will ultimately be used in BMW logistics. The project aims to develop two 18-ton trucks and two 40-ton trucks, which will be tested by BMW and Deutz. Deutz has already developed a 7.8-litre hydrogen combustion engine, which will be used in the 18-tonne trucks in a first phase of the project. A second 13-liter engine will be developed by Keyout for use in the 40-tonne trucks, which will be operated by DHL Freight for BMW Group. Two hydrogen refueling stations in Leipzig and Nuremberg will be developed by TotalEnergies.

Most of the past projects for using hydrogen in trucks have focused on fuel cell electric (EV) vehicles. Large trucks have significant advantages over cars or light vehicles for the use of hydrogen, as their chassis can accommodate larger tanks for storing hydrogen and the engine room is relatively large, which means that a larger and therefore more powerful fuel cell can be accommodated.

Burning hydrogen does not result in carbon emissions and has therefore been touted as a greener and cleaner option. Toyota, in particular, has considered adapting diesel vehicles to become hydrogen-powered, with a hydrogen-burning diesel-adapted Corolla competing in the 2021 Super Taikyu Series racing championship after only relatively minor valve adjustments.

Efficiency with hydrogen combustion is generally lower than gasoline or diesel, however, in applications like trucking where the load may be continuous, efficiency is significantly more manageable. Although the direct products of hydrogen combustion are expected to be only water, at elevated temperatures the process can result in NOx emissions, calling into question the true “zero emissions” credibility of hydrogen in as fuel for combustion.

DAF previously developed a hydrogen combustion engine truck, the XF H2 Innovation Truck, which won the European Truck Innovation Award this year.

Kevin A. Perras