ICEBreaker fuel cell truck set for debut

By Categories: Commercial NewsPublished On: Thursday 25 April 2024

Hydrogen technology specialist Intelligent Energy says it will debut a fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) solution along with partners Viritech and Horiba Mira this year in the form of the ICEBreaker HGV.

“While rapid advancements in battery pack technologies and smarter battery management solutions are revolutionising fleet operations, it’s important not to see battery electric vehicles (BEVs) as a head-to-head rival to other clean vectors such as hydrogen,” said the company.

“In many scenarios, combining batteries and hydrogen addresses the limitations of each power source, especially for demanding fleet needs in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) and heavy goods vehicle (HGV) sectors. Batteries excel at providing initial power for acceleration or transient needs, while hydrogen fuel cells offer efficient support for sustained cruising typical in goods vehicle operations.”

Traditionally, batteries coupled with fuel cells have primarily used hydrogen as a range extender, says Intelligent Energy, with the battery serving as the main power source.

“But for larger, heavier vehicles, the efficiency of batteries starts to become compromised by the so-called mass compounding effect; in order to move a heavier load, larger, heavier batteries are required and payload is compromised. And even without these considerations that mitigate against battery-only HGVs, long distance (rather than stop-start) applications of LCVs may well also be better served by a hybrid battery-hydrogen solution.”

Emerging drivetrain designs are effectively integrating batteries and fuel cells to optimise their roles in FCEV solutions, explains the firm; the collaborative effort by Viritech, Intelligent Energy, and Horiba Mira introduces a system featuring a small yet potent 200KW fuel cell as the primary mover, complemented by a powerful compact 16KW battery and a single DC to DC converter.

“This setup intelligently manages the workload between the fuel cell and the battery to meet dynamic power demands during journeys,” said Intelligent Energy.

“This year, the three partners will debut their system in the ICEBreaker HGV, which mechanically packages into existing truck platforms due to the small size of the direct water-injection fuel cell and small battery. The system will provide total cost of ownership, driveline lifetime and the same operational capacity at parity with diesel trucks.

“While this commercially-viable, game-changing technology will be proven in an HGV, the approach is equally applicable to the LCV sector.”