Despite positive improvements in technology, global carbon emissions are projected to grow by 56% by 2050. Government and industry around the globe are working hard to address this issue by investing in technologies and supporting policies that will help decarbonize some of the heaviest emitting industries. The road freight industry is currently one of the biggest carbon producers and will need innovative solutions to achieve current emission reduction targets. The Edmonton region has strong expertise in clean technology development and is leading Canada in developing innovative solutions for the transportation industry.
The Alberta Motor Transportation Association (AMTA) has served as the voice, standard, and resource for Alberta’s commercial transportation industry since 1938. Its work is heavily focused on bringing clean energy into the mainstream heavy-truck sector. Through its safety initiatives, progressive policies, and strategic direction, they are having some initial success. Currently, AMTA is rolling out Canada’s first-ever heavy-duty alternative fuel demonstration.
Recently, AMTA attended the Canadian Hydrogen Convention, where President of AMTA Chris Nash, explained how this pilot project will allow partners like Nikola, Suncor Energy, and others to showcase their low-emission hydrogen trucks to customers in Canadian markets. This two-year project will test three heavy-duty hydrogen vehicles in the Edmonton region.
“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.”
Suncor Energy, which recently partnered with AMTA on several key hydrogen initiatives, will be providing hydrogen fueling stations and site construction services to support the Alberta Zero Emissions Truck Electrification Collaboration project (AZETEC) and the Alberta Zero Emissions Hydrogen Transit project (AZEHT). The first fueling station will be constructed right here in the Edmonton region.
Photo: (left to right) Edmonton Global’s Chris McLeod, Nikola Motor Company’s head of sustainability and social responsibility Elizabeth Fretheim, AMTA president Chris Nash at the 2022 Canadian Hydrogen Convention
According to Emissions Reduction Alberta, the AZETEC project aims to develop a zero-emission truck with a range of at least 700 kilometres, and two long-range fuel-cell electric trucks (FCET) for transport between Edmonton and Calgary. These vehicles will demonstrate a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions thanks to the fuel cell hybrid drivetrain’s improved fuel efficiency, with a plan for even greater emissions reductions when carbon is later sequestered at the hydrogen generation facility.
Similarly, AZEHT intends to demonstrate two hydrogen fuel cell electric buses (FCEB) in road trials. AZEHT will give local communities the opportunity to gain practical experience using FCEB technology and position them to develop competitive proposals for programmes like the Canadian Infrastructure Bank’s transit electrification programme. If successful, this programme will boost demand for H2 and encourage the establishment of commercially viable fuelling facilities and distribution networks throughout the province. This is required to make the switch to a hydrogen economy, which will result in reduced emissions, economic expansion, and job creation.
These projects will address two of the biggest challenges being faced by the emerging hydrogen economy – fluidity and scalability. By establishing hydrogen fueling stations across the province, the Edmonton region’s transportation sector will have an early mover advantage that will help meet Canada’s 2030 and 2050 emissions targets.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also playing an increasingly large role in the clean energy transition. Emissions Reduction Alberta, and Alberta Innovates are developing data collection strategies using AI to accurately track emissions. According to Alberta Innovates David Van Dem Assem, AZETEC is heavily invested in data collection and analysis, and every truck part of this preliminary fleet is monitored to improve efficiency and expedite commercial roll-out.
Photo: (left to right) Edmonton Global’s Chris McLeod and Diesel Tech Industries COO Rebecca Goldsack at the 2022 Canadian Hydrogen Convention
Diesel Tech Industries (DTI), a local transport technology developer based in the Edmonton region, is also using AI to optimize its dual-fuel technologies. “Our technology is based on really driving innovative technology for the transportation industry. All of our technologies that we’ve ever developed are really rooted in reading and interpreting data and developing action,” says Rebecca Goldsack, COO at DTI.
Goldsack explained how AI technology is being used to drive DTI’s innovation further for the industry at large. DTI is currently achieving 80% hydrogen usage in heavy diesel trucking by using AI to analyze small-scale combustion phenomena within its systems. Goldsack believes that there will be a gradual shift towards hydrogen use in the industry, and DTI’s retrofitted hydrogen trucks are the steps being taken towards decarbonizing this industry. DTI’s technology is enabling the move toward a fully hydrogen-based system in a scalable way that is both fluid and accommodating to industry needs.
As the cornerstone of the supply chain, the road freight industry is crucial to our industrialized world. By supporting the conditions for the successful implementation of hydrogen fuel-cell trucks, the Edmonton region is driving Canada’s hydrogen economy, an important part of helping us meet long-term emissions reduction goals.