Small-Scale Fuel Cell Truck: Can It Grow?

Researchers at Australia’s RMIT University have developed a small-scale version of a long-haul truck that runs on a hydrogen fuel cell. Developers say the model can be scaled into a normal freight truck with the same capabilities of a diesel fuel truck, without the emissions.

The model is an exact replica of the Scania Highline series and simulates the performance of a long-haul diesel trucks, used between Melbourne and Sydney. Run by remote control, researchers at the university tested the miniature truck against predefined dynamic loads, then scaled up the results using mathematical models to predict the performance of a full-scale truck.

Scania Highline

image via Scania

The hydrogen-powered electrical system used in the vehicle could also be used to supply power for truck air-conditioning and radio, along with a trailer refrigeration unit. “This latest innovation stems from our comprehensive research into sustainable mobility involving hydrogen technologies,” Professor Aleksandar Subic, head of the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, said in a statement. “We are also researching production of hydrogen using photovoltaic arrays and electrolysers, and solid state hydrogen storage.”

Australia has some of the highest freight levels in the world, with trucks accounting for about 20 percent of Australia’s greenhouse emissions from road vehicles, the RMIT researchers said. Future development of a hydrogen-fuel cell truck could not only help lower the overall carbon footprint of the country, it might also help cut costs into the country’s $35 billion freight industry.

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Kristy Hessman is a writer and native Oregonian who currently resides in California. Before starting her own company, she worked as a reporter covering business and politics for daily newspapers and The Associated Press.

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