Project ICEBreaker to develop clean hydrogen powertrains for heavy-trucks
In UK, leading automotive technology firms Viritech, HORIBA MIRA and Intelligent Energy have recently announced partnership to radically overhaul the architecture of clean hydrogen fuel cell powertrains for 44-tonne class HGV trucks.
With funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre, the companies have vowed to share their market-leading capabilities to deliver engineering solutions for the challenge of decarbonizing the 500,000 HGVs currently in operation on UK roads.
These diesel trucks currently produce a disproportionate 19 percent of all of the country's transport emissions, a figure that is forecast to grow as the size of the national fleet increases, they claim.
The partnership aim optimize the architecture of hydrogen powertrain for the specific use case of HGV and deliver a proof of concept truck for OEM and operator testing by late 2024. The project, that commences next month, will deploy new lightweight, high power fuel cells with smaller batteries and intelligent energy management software to deliver mass parity with diesel powertrains.
A 44-tonne battery electric truck requires five tonnes of batteries, cutting the payload by up to 20 percent and costing £40,000 per year in lost revenue. Hydrogen fuel cells present a far more commercially viable alternative, the partners opine.
Timothy Lyons, CEO and Founder of Viritech, commented on the project, "The ICEBreaker program enables Viritech to move the development of its high-performance hydrogen powertrain technology to the next stage, by working with our partners HORIBA MIRA and Intelligent Energy to integrate a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain on a 40-tonne truck, and to demonstrate the huge benefits of this technology to manufacturers and their fleet customers."
As the lead partner, Viritech will bring its proprietary energy management hardware and software, optimized for fuel cell as prime mover, to target mass parity with HGV diesel powertrains to the project. Intelligent Energy's latest generation of specialist fuel cells for heavy duty applications will be the heart and soul of this project.
"Decarbonising heavy goods vehicles is one of the major challenges for industry to overcome, fuel cells provide the best technology for achieving that goal, so IE is very proud to be the fuel cell partner for this critical project", said Greg Harris, Chief Commercial Officer, Intelligent Energy.
Engineering consultants HORIBA MIRA, on the other hand, will contribute its vehicle engineering experience for the truck's thermal systems modelling and engineering, systems integration and vehicle optimization as well as validation and certification.
With HGV viability critically linked to total cost of ownership (TCO) for operators, HORIBA MIRA will be using its experience in developing a digital twin of the ICEBreaker HGV with a driver-in-the-loop capability to pre-validate the vehicle's TCO credentials.