Nuvera Fuel Cells is shipping test versions of its 45 kW fuel cell engines to partners in Europe and China to electrify commercial medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.
The zero-emission engine generates enough power for buses, trucks and other on- and off-road vehicles, Nuvera said. Or it can be used as a range extender for a battery-electric powertrain.
Billerica, Massachusetts-based Nuvera is a subsidiary of Hyster-Yale Group Inc. It makes fuel cells for forklifts and other material-handling equipment.
Fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity with water as the only emission. Like batteries, fuel cells convert the energy produced by a chemical reaction into usable electric power. High-pressure hydrogen fueling typically takes about as long as filling a tank with gasoline or diesel.
The main drawback of fuel cells is the absence of a national fueling infrastructure. Centralized refueling stations, where trucks or equipment travel regularly, makes the technology workable, said Gus Block, Nuvera’s director of Marketing and Corporate Development.
“Trucking is a very attractive application for fuel cell engines because their weight and size allow comparable payloads to be carried on a fully electrified platform,” Block told FreightWaves. “At this point, it makes sense to focus on applications like drayage and terminal tractors with prescribed routes and return-to-base fleets.”
Nuvera’s first customers for the 45 kW engine include its parent company, which is incorporating fuel cell engines into a container handler at the Port of Los Angeles as part of a program funded by the California Air Resources Board. Nuvera’s Chinese partner, Zhejiang Runfeng Hydrogen Engine Co., is integrating the Nuvera fuel cell into a city bus.
Nuvera is transferring manufacturing of its drop-in fuel cell forklift power system to Hyster-Yale’s factory. It is also building its own fuel cell stack manufacturing facility in China, where local partners are helping Nuvera gain access to Chinese markets.
“Our strategy is to refine our manufacturing and supply chain capabilities for our core proprietary technology, and to partner with original equipment manufacturers and their suppliers to integrate our products into their vehicles and equipment,” Block said.
Nuvera’s new fuel cell engine includes a fully integrated compressor and patented controls to make integration and operation easier. The technology incorporates uncoated metal plates that resist shock and vibration. The engine uses open flow field architecture for high-power density and efficiency.
Hyster-Yale Group is owned by Cleveland, Ohio-based Hyster-Yale Materials Handling, Inc. (NYSE:HY).