Freudenberg Sealing Technologies (FST) has launched the development of a special fuel cell system for heavy-duty trucks.
FST is collaborating with Quantron AG, a specialist in the field of commercial vehicle conversion. The project’s first fuel cell system will be installed in a heavy-duty truck for real-world testing in the near future. These collaborative efforts are being supported by the Energy Research Program of the Bavarian State Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy in Germany.
Due to their large loading volume, 40-ton heavy-duty trucks are popular among freight carriers. While new technologies have been implemented in this weight class in recent years to improve environmental performance, safety and efficiency, overall fuel consumption and vehicle emissions still remain a challenge. This is true particularly within the EU, where trucks account for 25% of the entire CO2 emissions in the transportation sector.
While battery-electric vehicles can be used efficiently and in an eco-friendly way in urban areas, fuel cell technology offers the optimal approach when it comes to emission-free logistics over long distances and with higher payloads. Electric commercial vehicles that are powered solely by batteries are not suited for everyday operations, partly because of longer charging cycles and limited range. During stop-and-go traffic or traffic jams, the battery loses significant power. An additional, time-consuming refueling stop is economically inefficient. A battery-powered electric drive may also require concessions in terms of payload.
“Fuel cell trucks are the only economical, emission-free alternative that permits large payloads as well as significant ranges and fast refueling cycles,” says Dr. Manfred Stefener, vice president of fuel cell systems at FST.
“That’s why we are looking forward to working with Quantron AG to create fuel cell applications that are explicitly designed for the maximum load and operating points of trucks,” Stefener adds.
FST’s fuel cell expertise is focused on making emission-free, economically viable heavy-duty transportation a reality. In the past year, the company has launched successful development projects for buses and cruise ships with partners such as FlixBus and Meyer Werft in Germany. With the cooperation of Quantron AG, a specialist in retrofitting existing commercial vehicles with electric powertrains and batteries, Freudenberg has now turned its attention to truck solutions in the 40-ton weight class to create a low-emission alternative to standard commercial heavy-duty trucks powered by diesel drivetrains.
The project is funded by the Energy Research Program of the Bavarian State Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy and is one of the first initiatives that explicitly supports the development of a fuel cell for use in heavy-duty trucks. A first test vehicle with the new drive technology is expected to be rolling across Bavarian roads in mid-2021.