Hauling towards a low carbon future

| Jason Li |

Road freight is the primary CO2 emitter of global trade-related transport and the industry has faced numerous barriers to a net-zero reality. Despite positive technology improvements, emissions are projected to grow to 56% by 2050. So much fuel-efficient technology has excluded medium to heavy-haul trucks, and this significant part of our global supply chain needs to transition to cleaner fuel models. 

This year, at the first-ever Canadian Hydrogen Convention, several industry leaders announced their solutions to major barriers the ground transportation industry faces as they transition to net-zero emissions. The Edmonton region can look forward to this event for at least nine more years, where these industry leaders and innovators will continue to conquer the challenge. 

Pictured: Canadian Hydrogen Convention, April 2022
Left to right: Philippe Gerretsen (Nikola Corporation), Laura Guzman (Hydra Energy), Chris Nash (AMTA)

Alberta’s Motor Transportation Association (AMTA) has served as the voice, standard and resource for Alberta’s commercial transportation industry since 1938. Through its safety initiatives, progressive policies, and strategic direction, AMTA is taking a step further with its low emissions initiatives by partnering with Hyzon Motors, Hydra Energy, and the Nikola Corporation. Together, they will be rolling out Canada’s first-ever heavy-duty alternative fuel demonstration! 

This two-year project will test three heavy-duty hydrogen vehicles making it the first of its kind in Alberta. President of AMTA, Chris Nash, thinks that this demonstration will allow partners to showcase their low emissions hydrogen trucks to Canadian customers in Canadian markets. 

Hydra Energy is retrofitting its existing vehicles into dual-fuel trucks to start hitting the roads by April 2022. Then, from July 2022 to March 2023, the Hyzon Energy hydrogen truck will be retrofitted and put into service. Finally, the Nikola trucks will go through that process and be ready for the road starting April 2023.

“These demonstrations will facilitate many other significant benefits, including: advancing net-zero mobility, providing commercial drivers with the hydrogen technology experiences, supporting road safety, and providing critical performance data to develop and advance vehicle policies and regulations,” stated Nash. “It’s reducing risks associated with the hydrogen adoption and highlighting hydrogen to all three levels of government, our industry stakeholders, and the broader community.” 

 

The future of long-haul trucking

 

Hydra Energy is the world’s first Hydrogen-as-a-Service (HaaS™) provider for commercial fleets that want to cut emissions and expenses right now, with no upfront investment and minimal risk. 

Hydra’s unique approach to technology and transportation is something they call hydrogen internal combustion engine technology. Even though Hydra has extensive experience with fuel cells, they have chosen to focus on engines. They offer a reversible and transferable retrofit system with no engine modification, thus keeping the OEM warranties intact. “This system can displace 40% of diesel fuel at the moment and up to 40% of emissions. It can run up to 1,000 km per day with 24 kg of hydrogen,” Laura Guzman, the Director of Government Affairs & Partnerships at Hydra Energy, said.

Hydra’s retrofits have three separate components. The first is hydrogen storage located in the back of the cabin. The second is a mechanical device that injects hydrogen with air into the engine for combustion. The third component is a computer loaded with a Hydra-developed proprietary system, which is software that manages hydrogen injection across the truck’s various drive cycles, making it the perfect solution for heavy-haul trucks. This revolutionary technology could enable fleets to perform cross-country treks with heavy loads without sacrificing carrying capacity. 

Nikola Corporation is another major player seeking to ease ground fleets into clean energy. This American manufacturing company produces fuel-cell, battery-electric and energy-solution vehicles and has continually showcased zero-emission vehicle designs since 2016. This year, they announced the development of their Hydrogen Production Hub in partnership with TC Energy, supporting the hydrogen ecosystem for the rollout of their hydrogen fuel-cell trucks.

“These trucks are fully zero-emissions out of the tailpipe and will be powered through low carbon hydrogen fuel supplies that we’re very excited to develop here in Alberta,” says Philippe Gerretsen, senior manager at Nikola Corporation. “We can truly prove to customers that we have a truck that can enable a seamless transition from existing diesel vehicles without sacrificing economics or performance while enabling zero-emission transportation solutions that can get going in short order.”

Gerretsen intends to have a Canadian fleet rollout by 2024, following their 2023 US inception.  Like other partners on this project, Nikola Corp will be showcasing their truck for a year in actual operations with Canadian customers. This is in addition to other demonstrations they’ve already been doing with other clients, such as Anheuser-Busch in the Los Angeles area, where they currently have two fuels in real-world operations. 

These industry leaders make the transition to clean-energy trucking easier, smarter, and more efficient than what’s been happening. They identified each barrier faced by medium to heavy-haul trucking and solved it! This partnership and demonstration is super exciting news for long-haul trucking and a sign of a promising future in net-zero ground transportation.

Stay tuned to Edmonton Global’s website and social media pages to keep abreast with relevant information on the clean-energy transition.

 

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