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Hydrogen players lay groundwork for fueling-speed parity with diesel

Major players agree on equipment to make hydrogen fueling common

Major backers of hydrogen fuel cell trucks agreed on hoses and nozzles that would be standardized globally, bringing hydrogen fueling closer to the speed of diesel fueling. (Photo: Toyota)

Key players in hydrogen fueling, including Shell, Nikola Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp, have reached agreement on standard hoses and nozzles that will put filling a fuel cell truck on par with the time it takes to refuel a diesel truck.

Hydrogen already has a speed advantage over battery-electric trucks (BETs), which take longer to recharge than it takes to fill a hydrogen-powered fuel cell truck. Fuel cell electric truck (FCET) backers point to the adoption of common equipment and a filling speed consistent with Department of Energy guidelines to close the gap with diesel.

The Hydrogen Heavy Duty Vehicle Industry Group, which also includes French industrial gas giant Air Liquide; South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Corp,; and Norway’s Nel Hydrogen have agreed with Tatsuno Corporation and Transfer Oil S.p.A. to adopt a global standard of 70 megapascal pressure units (MPa) for high-flow heavy-duty vehicle fueling hardware.

Testing connections

The next step is testing the new nozzles and connector designs this quarter to assure they can handle the pressure of 10 kilograms of hydrogen per minute, the DOT guideline for hydrogen filling of heavy-duty trucks. Results are expected in Q1 2022.

NextEnergy, a  Detroit-based nonprofit technology accelerator, is managing the initiative.

Tatsuno, an international hydrogen fuel equipment provider founded in 1911, is designing and developing vehicle receptacle and dispenser nozzle and breakaway components. Transfer Oil is leading the design and development of a hydrogen dispenser fueling hose. 

“The development of this hardware is an integral part to enable projected fueling times competitive to diesel fueling times,” Christian Appel, Nikola global chief engineer of the Tre FCEV and propulsion engineering, said in a press release.

Toyota, which has equipped 10 Kenworth T680s with fuel cells from its Mirai passenger car, will begin building heavy-duty truck fuel cell modules in Kentucky in 2023. It has not indicated that it would build its own Class 8 trucks.

“This effort is a prime example of industry competitors working together towards a common goal of decarbonization,” said Justin Ward, group manager of Toyota’s fuel cell development department.

The industry’s effort toward hydrogen fueling is “ an essential part of our hydrogen infrastructure development strategy,” said Pablo Koziner, Nikola president of energy and commercial.

Nikola expands hydrogen infrastructure

Nikola, which has made several moves toward fulfilling a pledge of having 700 hydrogen filling stations by 2028, on Thursday announced an agreement with Canada’s TC Energy to collaborate on plans to build and operate large-scale hydrogen hubs.

It is a pivot for TC Energy, which in June canceled plans for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline after President Joe Biden refused to grant a permit.

Nikola also has announced hydrogen fuel station development plans  with renewable natural gas provider OPAL Fuels. It also has a memorandum of understanding to build two hydrogen fueling stations in California with truck stop operator TravelCenters of America.

In June, the company bought a $50 million stake in an Indiana hydrogen plant. Two months earlier, Nikola and European manufacturing joint venture partner Iveco formed a hydrogen pipeline alliance with natural gas distributor OGE.

Nikola invests $50M to make hydrogen in the Midwest

TravelCenters of America and Nikola plan California hydrogen stations

Nikola finds hydrogen distributor for future European fuel cell trucks

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.