Mercedes-Benz hydrogen concept vehicle will offer range of 1,000 km
Truck manufacturer Daimler Trucks presented its new technology strategy reaffirming its commitment to the goals of the Paris Climate Protection Convention. The event focused on the technology for hydrogen-based fuel-cell trucks for the long-haul transport segment. The Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Truck, which had its world premiere as a concept vehicle, marks the beginning of fuel cell drive.
With the GenH2 Truck, Daimler Trucks is demonstrating for the first time which specific technologies it is driving forward so that heavy-duty fuel-cell trucks can perform flexible and demanding long-distance haulage operations with ranges of up to 1,000 kilometers and more on a single tank of hydrogen. The manufacturer plans to begin customer trials of the GenH2 Truck in 2023; series production is to start in the second half of the decade. Thanks to the use of liquid instead of gaseous hydrogen with its higher energy density, the vehicle’s performance is planned to equal that of a comparable conventional diesel truck.
“We need zero-carbon goods vehicles on our roads. These include hydrogen fuel cell trucks. There is huge potential inherent in hydrogen for the protection of our environment and a strong economy. That is why we have been funding hydrogen as a transport fuel for over ten years – one current example is the concept truck presented today. We will continue to provide strong support to the development of climate-friendly drivetrains and innovations in and for Germany. This will include, but not be limited to, significantly expanding the funding of vehicles,” said Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure Andreas Scheuer.
The development engineers at Daimler Trucks have based the GenH2 Truck on the capabilities of the conventional Mercedes-Benz Actros long-haul truck with regard to tractive power, range, and performance. For example, the series-production version of the GenH2 Truck is to have a gross vehicle weight of 40 tons and a payload of 25 tons. Two special liquid-hydrogen tanks and a particularly powerful fuel-cell system will make this high payload and long range possible, and therefore form the core of the GenH2 Truck concept.
Daimler experts can draw on existing expertise for the development of liquid-hydrogen tanks, and they are also cooperating closely with a partner. With regard to fuel cells, the manufacturer benefits from its experts’ decades of experience, in terms of technology as well as production methods and processes. This represents an enormous advantage. In April this year, Daimler Truck AG concluded a preliminary, non-binding agreement with the Volvo Group to establish a new joint venture for the development to series maturity, production and commercialization of fuel-cell systems for use in heavy-duty commercial vehicles and other applications. Joining forces will decrease development costs for both companies and accelerate the market introduction of fuel cell systems.
Daimler Trucks prefers to use liquid hydrogen (LH2) because in this state, the energy carrier has a far higher energy density in relation to volume than gaseous hydrogen. As a result, the tanks of a fuel cell truck using liquid hydrogen are much smaller and, due to the lower pressure, significantly lighter. This gives the vehicles a larger cargo space and higher payload weight. At the same time, more hydrogen can be carried, which significantly increases the trucks’ range. This makes the series GenH2 Truck, like conventional diesel trucks, suitable for multi-day, difficult to plan long-haul transport and where the daily energy throughput is high.
Daimler Trucks is currently pressing ahead with the development of the necessary tank-system technologies to make liquid hydrogen usable also in mobile applications as an energy source for series-produced fuel cell trucks. The storage of cryogenic liquid hydrogen at -253 degrees Celsius is already common practice in stationary applications, for example in industry or at hydrogen filling stations.