Inside Logistics

Alberta testing heavy duty hydrogen fuel cell vehicles

Project will test the ability of hydrogen to fuel Alberta's heavy duty freight transportation sector


May 7, 2019
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VANCOUVER and CALGARY – Ballard Power Systems will provide next-generation FCmove-HD fuel cell modules – utilizing Ballard’s LCS technology – to power two tractor-trailer trucks as part of a $15 million Alberta Zero-Emissions Truck Electrification Collaboration (AZETEC) project.

The AZETEC project will test the ability of hydrogen to fuel Alberta’s heavy duty freight transportation sector and is seen as a first step in exploring a potential made-in-Alberta hydrogen economy.

Ballard will provide a total of six FCmove-HD fuel cell modules – each generating 70 kilowatts (kW) of power – with three modules to be installed in each truck. These modules will utilize Ballard’s LCS technology, planned for commercial availability in 2019.

The AZETEC project will study transport by 64-tonne B-train tractor-trailers carrying very large freight loads over long distances. The project will test hydrogen as a zero-emissions alternative fuel to diesel, along with the refueling infrastructure and other systems that would be required for Alberta to implement this new fuel solution.

The three-year project also will investigate the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and airborne pollutants in Alberta’s freight transportation sector.

Freight transportation accounts for almost 70 percent of diesel fuel demand in Alberta and contributes about 12 million tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHGs) per year in the province. The AZETEC project is scheduled to run until mid-2022 and will involve the design and manufacture of two heavy duty, extended range, hydrogen fuel cell electric hybrid trucks that will move freight year-round between the cities of Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta.

The 64 tonne (gross vehicle weight) B-train tractor-trailers, developed for Alberta’s unique operating environment, will be capable of traveling up to 430 miles (700 km) between refuelings and will be operated by Alberta trucking companies Trimac Transportation and Bison Transport. By the end of the project the trucks will have travelled more than 300,000 miles (500,000 km) and carried about 12 million tonne-miles (20 million tonne-km) of freight.

“The tractor-trailer trucks being used in the AZETEC project are the first Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles – or FCEVs – of this size and capacity to be built and tested anywhere globally,” said Rob Campbell, Ballard’s chief commercial officer.

“We are delighted to expand Ballard’s participation in FCEV truck trials across a growing range of sizes and classes, as we demonstrate the compelling value proposition that fuel cells offer for Heavy and Medium Duty Motive applications requiring long range, rapid refueling, heavy payloads and route flexibility.”

The AZETEC project builds on more than a year’s worth of research, data analysis and scenario modelling done by the Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research (CESAR) Initiative. In addition to Ballard, other project participants will include: Zen Clean Energy Solutions, project manager; Dana Inc., global leader in heavy duty electric drive axles; Nordresa, Quebec-based electric drive train manufacturer; Freightliner/Daimler, manufacturer of truck bodies; Air Products and Praxair, hydrogen manufacturers; and Hydrogen Technology & Energy Corporation (HTEC), hydrogen solutions and infrastructure provider.

Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing more than $7.3 million to the AZETEC project, which is led by the Alberta Motor Transportation Association. ERA is providing the funding through its competitive BEST Challenge program, which targets technologies that demonstrate the potential to reduce GHG emissions in Alberta and secure the Province’s success in a lower-carbon economy.