A man talking to a woman in front of a truck.

Hydrogen-powered vehicles drive to net-zero future

Clean Technology, Hydrogen
Published On
June 15, 2022

Pictured: Nikola’s hydrogen fuel cell semi-truck, Canadian Hydrogen Convention, April 2022
Left to right: Chris Mcleod (Edmonton Global), Elizabeth Fretheim (Nikola), Chris Nash (AMTA)

The  inaugural Canadian Hydrogen Convention is already North America’s largest hydrogen convention and it’s only going to get bigger as the Edmonton region will host for the next 10 years. The Alberta Motor Transportation Association and Nikola are leading the way in a clean energy future for long-haul trucking!

The Edmonton Region Hydrogen Hub has mapped out the Edmonton region and the hydrogen economy, from talent to uses and many more from now to 2050, and one of the key features in the journey to net-zero carbon is transportation, with heavy haul being one of the more difficult transportation challenges when it comes to decarbonization. The technologies, infrastructure and knowledge that Alberta has to offer are going to be instrumental in our journey to that net-zero carbon future.

Chris Nash explained how the Alberta Motor Transportation Association (AMTA) is working to make heavy haul trucking an area of focus in decarbonization. This is especially vital work with the trucking industry being one of the larger carbon emitters in Canada. “The AMTA understands that the way to look at finding success for 2030 and 2050 is going to be around that developmental technology to get to net-zero,” stated Nash.

In terms of the different energy systems and technologies being introduced as well as the education that goes along with it, everyone needs to be at the table and committed to the success of the decarbonization of heavy haul trucking, from producers to users to operators.

When looking at the hydrogen world, and achieving net-zero in general, it is important not to sit in any singular camp thinking that there is only one available pathway to success. When it comes to heavy haul trucking specifically, Nash noted, hydrogen is a central solution. It’s imperative that everyone involved keeps an open mind to all possible solutions in order to achieve what is best for the economy and environment at large.

Nikola is one of those possible solutions. They produce both battery and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, one of which is the Nikola hydrogen fuel cell semi-truck. Nikola has partnerships with TC Energy and is focused on zero-emission vehicles, “we’re trying to cover the whole ecosystem because we understand that this is a really complex transition,” noted Elizabeth Fretheim about the move to zero-emission vehicles. “I often talk about the three-legged stool, there’s the vehicle, there’s the fuel, and the infrastructure. So we want to make sure that as we’re building out our partnerships, as we’re building out our capabilities that we can bring all of that to our customers.”

Nikola has the capability to go full fuel-cell power with no need for a hybrid hydrogen-electricity energy source which is a major accomplishment.

The Nikola hydrogen fuel cell semi-truck is a class-eight vehicle, currently built for the US gross vehicle weight market at up to 82,000 pounds. The truck has batteries as a supplemented source of power, but it is still an electric vehicle with the hydrogen fuel cell generating the power and sending it directly into the E-axel to drive the vehicle. The battery is simply there in the case that the truck needs an extra burst of power, for example, when traveling up a steep hill. The battery and fuel cell work in parallel with the fuel cell being the main source of power for these long-haul vehicles.

This hydrogen-powered vehicle is a cab-over with significant driver visibility, moveability, and power, as well as space within the cab for the driver. It is a brilliant example of hydrogen innovation that is pioneering the path to a net-zero carbon future. Some of the things drivers love about these electric trucks is their power, their silent drive, and their spacious interior. Not only are these vehicles good for the environment but they are completely transforming long-distance trucking for drivers.

It is thanks to the innovations of companies such as the AMTA and Nikola that our vision for a net-zero future is becoming a reality. If you’d like to learn more about transformations and advances in energy systems and the hydrogen economy be sure to check out our blog for more creative, inspiring content such as this!

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