Mercedes-Benz launches hydrogen-cell truck

Hanover Germany: Mercedes-Benz Trucks is to start production of a hydrogen fuel cell truck in the second half of this decade.

The first prototypes of the Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Truck are under test on the test track and on public roads.

The aim is to have a truck with a 1,000 kilometres range suitable for heavy long-distance transport.

Hydrogen-based drives are a better solution for heavy-duty transport and long-haul, Mercedes-Benz says. Mercedes-Benz Trucks is convinced that electrification of long haul can only be covered quickly and cost-effectively with green electricity and green hydrogen.

“Hardly any country in the world will be able to supply itself with green energy alone at competitive prices in the future. Consequently, there will have to be global trade with CO2-neutral energy sources.

“Green hydrogen will play a central role here. Mercedes-Benz Trucks assumes it will be traded at very attractive prices in the future. In addition, the truck manufacturer sees advantages in terms of the costs and technical feasibility of the hydrogen infrastructure, as well as longer ranges, flexibility and shorter refueling times for customers. Therefore, hydrogen trucks can be a viable option for our customers, especially in tough long-haul operations and notably in terms of total cost of ownership,” Mercedes-Benz says.

Daimler Truck has based the GenH2 Truck on the Mercedes-Benz Actros long-haul truck in terms of payload, range and performance. The aim is to offer the series-produced variant of the GenH2 Truck with a 25-toone payload on a 40-tonne gross weight truck.

Two liquid hydrogen tanks and a fuel-cell system will enable this high payload and long range. The two stainless-steel liquid-hydrogen tanks intended for the series version of the GenH2 Truck will have a particularly high storage capacity of 80kg (40 kg each) for covering long distances. The stainless-steel tank system consists of two tubes, one within the other, that are connected to each other and vacuum-insulated.

In the series version of the GenH2 Truck, the fuel-cell system supplies 2 x150kilowatts and a battery provides an additional 400kW temporarily. At 70kWh, the storage capacity of the battery is relatively low, as it is not intended to meet energy needs, but mainly to be switched on to provide situational power support for the fuel-cell, for example during peak loads while accelerating or while driving uphill fully loaded.

At the same time, the relatively light battery allows a higher payload. It is recharged in series-production vehicles with braking energy and excess fuel-cell energy. A core element of the the fuel-cell and battery system is a cooling and heating system that keeps all components at the ideal operating temperature for maximum durability. In a pre-series version, the two electric motors are designed for a total of 2 x 23 kW continuous power and 2 x 330kW maximum power. Torque is 2 x 1577 Nm and 2 x 2071 Nm respectively.

At the same time, Daimler Truck is working with Linde on the development of a new process for handling liquid hydrogen – subcooled liquid hydrogen know as sLH2 technology. Among other things, this approach enables higher storage density and easier refuelling compared to LH2, Daimler says.

The companies plan for the first refuelling of a prototype vehicle at a pilot station in Germany in 2023. Mercedes-Benz Trucks and its partners are planning for a high level of transparency and openness around the relevant interfaces of the jointly developed sLH2 technology. The goal is to collaborate with other companies and associations as possible to develop their own refuelling and vehicle technologies that apply the new liquid-hydrogen standard and thereby establish a global mass market for the new process.

When it comes to infrastructure for hydrogen filling stations along important transport routes in Europe, Daimler Truck is planning to work with the companies Shell, BP and TotalEnergies. Daimler Truck is also a shareholder in hydrogen filling station operator H2 Mobility Deutschland.

In addition, Daimler Truck, Iveco, Linde, OMV, Shell, TotalEnergies and Volvo Group have committed to work together to help create the conditions for the mass-market roll-out of hydrogen trucks in Europe as part of the H2Accelerate (H2A) interest group.

Together with the Volvo Group, Daimler Truck is committed to hydrogen-based fuel-cells. Both companies founded their joint venture cellcentric in 2021. Cellcentric’s goal is to become one of the world’s leading manufacturers of fuel-cell systems. To this end, the company plans to set up one of the largest series production facilities in Europe starting in 2025.

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