Volvo CE starts testing global ADT powered by hydrogen fuel cell – the HX04

Posted by Paul Moore on Jun 13, 2022

Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) says it continues to act on its commitment to drive change towards a net zero future. Following the completion of a multi-party research project aimed at innovating hydrogen technology, the company has begun testing the world’s first prototype fuel-cell articulated hauler, the Volvo HX04. Project results will provide important insights into the possibilities of hydrogen and fuel cells as Volvo CE continues its research for future product development programs.

Taking into account the commitment of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) of net zero greenhouse gas emissions in the value chain by 2040 and promoting the transformation of the industry towards carbon neutrality, Volvo CE accelerated its work on sustainable energy sources. As well as battery-electric solutions, where Volvo CE says it already offers the widest range of commercial products, the company’s efforts also include exploring the potential for electrification through hydrogen fuel cell technology. Today, a major milestone has been reached with the testing of the world’s first emission-free hydrogen fuel cell prototype articulated hauler, the Volvo HX04.

Carolina Diez Ferrer, Head of Advanced Engineering Programs at Volvo CE, says: “As the inventors of the world’s first articulated hauler more than 55 years ago, we are happy and proud to be driving change again with this fuel cell dumper concept. Although this is an early prototype, this innovation will yield valuable insights into the opportunities of hydrogen in energy transformation alongside battery-electric solutions. We believe that by exploring multiple technologies and working in partnership, we can create the best path forward to decarbonize the construction industry.

The Volvo HX04 is the result of a research project carried out between 2018 and 2022, funded by FFI, a national collaboration between the Swedish Innovation Agency VINNOVA, the Swedish Energy Agency and the Swedish Energy Administration. transport, to support strategic research, innovation and the development of sustainable vehicles. . Partners include Volvo CE, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, which provided specialist expertise on driveline development and safety, and PowerCell Sweden, a developer of fuel cell-based hydrogen electric power solutions.

Development and construction of the six-wheeled prototype was largely carried out at Volvo CE’s facilities in Braås, Sweden – the same place where Gravel Charlie, the world’s first articulated hauler, was born in 1966, giving the Volvo HX04 nicknamed “Charlie Electric. Engineers at the Technology Center in Eskilstuna, Sweden, contributed software development and knowledge gained from its fuel cell test lab. Although not available in the trade, the valuable concept information will inevitably inform future production.

The infrastructure for hydrogen is still under development, which means refueling the Volvo HX04 is an important aspect to be resolved in the project. Shell has installed a state-of-the-art hydrogen refueling station at the Volvo CE test track in Braås. Shell and the Volvo Group are both founding members of H2Accelerate, a collaboration of companies working to foster the conditions for the mass deployment of hydrogen trucks in Europe.

Oliver Bishop, Shell’s Managing Director for Hydrogen Mobility, said: “Providing the refueling infrastructure for this innovative project has given Shell the opportunity to demonstrate our technical capabilities in the field of hydrogen mobility. hydrogen and allowed us to help one of our key global collaboration partners take another step forward. in their decarbonization journey, which goes to the heart and intent of Shell’s Powering Progress strategy.

The process of refueling hydrogen vehicles is fast: the Volvo HX04 is charged with 12 kg of hydrogen in around 7.5 minutes, allowing it to run for around four hours. Fuel cells work by combining hydrogen and oxygen and the resulting chemical reaction produces electricity which powers the machine. In the process, the fuel cells also produce heat which can be used for cabin heating. Fuel cells emit only one thing: water vapour.

In principle, a fuel cell works much like a battery, except that it generates its own electricity from onboard hydrogen as needed rather than being charged from an external source. Vehicles with fuel cell electric powertrains have similar availability, range and refueling time as combustion engine vehicles. While battery electric vehicles and biofuels are commercially available today – as more sustainable alternatives to diesel – the commercialization of hydrogen machines is expected in the second half of this decade.

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