The development of trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cells has ceased to make sense; This statement comes from a report published through the magazine Nature Electronicswhich affirms that battery electric trucks already surpass hydrogen trucks in almost all aspects, since the level of development and technology of the former will not make it necessary to incorporate a hydrogen alternative, despite the fact that many are who continue to see that they are the real future of heavy industry.
Despite the fact that today road transport is still dominated by fossil fuels, new horizons are beginning to be glimpsed for this means of such importance on a day-to-day basis. Projects such as those of Volvo or Volta Trucks will take these vehicles towards a future dominated by net carbon emissions, since currently this sector accounts for 72% of greenhouse gases related to transport.
As an alternative to trucks powered by combustion mechanics, mainly diesel, there are two alternatives: hydrogen fuel cell or battery electric. Both options have their pros and cons. Until very recently, the option of incorporating the hydrogen fuel cell was presented as the most viable and natural of them, since its practical use would be very similar to that of a diesel engine, since refueling would be carried out in a few minutes and later it would have a significant number of kilometers of autonomy, thus speeding up the daily work of its operators.
However, this horizon has changed, as battery-powered electric trucks are increasingly presented as a more viable option for their incorporation into the day-to-day life of truck drivers. Until not long ago, this technology was at a rather poor point in terms of vehicle autonomy, even close to 150 km, as well as due to the precariousness of optimal recharging points. Currently, thanks to the incorporation of huge batteries with which to run several hundred kilometers without having to stop, and a greater incorporation of fast charging stations, this alternative is becoming more and more viable.
Another reason why the acceptance of battery electricity would be more interesting is because of its own commercial price, since this will become more competitive over the years and the democratization of its technology, while the fuel cell it is not expected to be truly operational until the end of this decade, at the earliest. By that time, battery electric vehicles are expected to prove to be one step further in terms of specifications and market penetration.
So where will all the development effort for fuel cell systems go? According to Dr. Patrick Plötz, its largest incorporation will be carried out for maritime transport and aviationsince for both cases a battery and recharging technology would be required that is still far from being viable for day-to-day use, but for land transport all efforts should be focused on the incorporation of batteries.
On the other hand, the greatest effort on the part of the manufacturers themselves is placed on battery-powered electrical mechanics. At the beginning of last year, around 25,000 units of fuel cell cars were moving around the world, mainly featuring two models, the Toyota Mirai and the Hyundai Nexo, which are powered by a total of 540 stations installed throughout the world. For its part, there are currently more than 15 million battery-powered electric cars moving around the world and there are around 1.3 million charging points.
In the electric truck sector we also find a similar simile since several models are currently being marketed, while many others are yet to come. The real challenge for this sector is currently in the long-distance and the transport of very heavy goods, since this requires a high energy consumption.
According to the data, a truck driver must take a break of 45 minutes for each effective trip of 4 and a half hours. In that period you will have time to travel approximately 400 kilometers, a fairly viable range within current electrical technology, while in said rest, through the network of fast chargers, you will be able to refuel an optimal amount of energy to be able to travel that distance until the next stop. This assumption contemplates that there is a fast charging network of at least 800 kW of power, something that is still under development with an eye on an effective power of more than 1 MW.
Be that as it may, it is true that the electric truck industry is currently in a phase of marked growth, although its margin of development is still quite loose; For its part, the hydrogen fuel cell feels for the moment quite far from being included in the day-to-day of transport, due to an apparently less experienced state than in the first case.