Powering trucks with hydrogen
Hydrogen is certainly an option in the long term for powering trucks. In fact, there are two different options:
- a fuel cell that uses hydrogen to generate electricity to power the electric motor
- or using hydrogen as a fuel for the combustion engine.
In both cases, a 100% reduction in CO2 emissions is possible when using green hydrogen.
Together with Toyota and Shell, DAF’s parent company PACCAR has been exploring various hydrogen options. The first hydrogen-powered trucks have already been tested in the port of Los Angeles. The findings from these trials will be shared with DAF so that we can start experimenting with the technology in Europe. If we want to achieve a real breakthrough with this type of technology in the future, it is essential that the first steps be taken now. And that is exactly what we are doing.
However promising this may sound, driveline technology for hydrogen-powered trucks is still in the experimental stage and therefore very expensive. And furthermore, hydrogen is only available in limited quantities and has to be compressed under very high pressure (700 bar) at extremely low temperatures (-253 degrees Celsius). There is also no distribution infrastructure in place at the moment. According to DAF, it will be at least 5 to 10 years before hydrogen can be used on a large scale.
Grey and green hydrogen
There are various ways to produce hydrogen. One of these involves breaking down fossil fuels, which produces CO2 and hydrogen. This hydrogen is called ‘grey’ because it’s generated from a fossil fuel. Another much cleaner way of producing hydrogen is through electrolysis. This involves passing an electric current through water, which produces oxygen and clean ‘green’ hydrogen. Unfortunately, only 10% of current hydrogen production is achieved through electrolysis. Most hydrogen is currently produced from coal and natural gas by chemical means, meaning more CO2.