Fuel-Cell Revolution: Daimler Truck Pioneers Decarbonisation with Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Trial Fleet

Mobility Outlook Bureau
24 Dec 2023
09:00 AM
3 Min Read

The five semi-trailer tractors are slated for deployment in diverse long-haul applications across specific routes in Germany, encompassing the transportation of building materials, sea containers, and cylinder gases.

Daimler Trucks

In a ground breaking move towards decarbonising the transportation sector, Daimler Truck is set to roll out the first customer-trial fleet of Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Trucks by mid-2024. Amazon, Air Products, INEOS, Holcim, and Wiedmann & Winz are among the key industry players participating in the inaugural phase of customer trials, marking a significant leap in the adoption of fuel-cell technology for long-distance transport.

The five semi-trailer tractors are slated for deployment in diverse long-haul applications across specific routes in Germany, encompassing the transportation of building materials, sea containers, and cylinder gases. This initiative underscores Daimler Truck's commitment to real-world testing, allowing customers to experience the potential of fuel-cell technology in daily operations while providing invaluable insights for ongoing series development.

Andreas Gorbach, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler Truck AG, overseeing Truck Technology, highlighted the mutual benefits of this venture, stating, “With this first customer fleet, our fuel-cell trucks are now being tested in real customer operation. A win-win situation for both sides: our customers get to know fuel-cell technology in daily real-life operation, and our engineering team gets to better understand customer needs and relevant use cases, taking them into account for series development.”

Leading the Charge: Key Participants in the Customer Trials

Among the companies at the forefront of this transformative journey is Wiedmann & Winz, based in Geislingen an der Steige (Baden-Württemberg). The logistics service provider will trial the Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Truck, transporting sea containers for DP World, showcasing the vehicle's potential on pan-European logistic routes. Managing Director Dr Micha Lege emphasized the company's commitment to innovation, stating, “Now we are looking forward to taking the next step with the GenH2 Truck, testing a long-haul truck with hydrogen fuel-cell drive.”

Holcim Group, represented by John H. Landwehr of logistics company Gerdes + Landwehr, plans to utilize the GenH2 Truck for transporting granulates and minerals within the building material industry. Landwehr stressed the importance of real-world experience in making informed decisions for the upcoming changes in their business group, emphasizing sustainability.

Caroline Stancell, General Manager Hydrogen for Mobility, Europe and Africa, Air Products, highlighted the company's broader commitment, stating, “Air Products is planning to convert its entire global fleet to hydrogen-powered vehicles and is proud to be involved in this lighthouse project with Daimler Truck, a leader in heavy-duty transportation and decarbonisation.”

INEOS and VERVAEKE are also key contributors, with plans to use the GenH2 Truck for transporting Dry Bulk PVC. Wouter Bleukx, Business Director Hydrogen at INEOS Inovyn, expressed enthusiasm for supporting the fuel-cell customer trials, emphasizing hydrogen as a game-changing source of energy.

Andreas Marschner, Vice President, Amazon Transportation Services, shared Amazon's commitment to carbon neutrality by 2040 and the crucial role of decarbonizing their transport network. Marschner expressed anticipation for participating in the pilot project and learning from the experience.

Driving Innovation: Liquid Hydrogen Technology Takes Centre Stage

Daimler Truck's preference for liquid hydrogen in developing hydrogen-based drives stems from its significantly higher energy density, reducing transport costs and allowing for increased hydrogen storage. The innovative 'sLH2 technology' (subcooled liquid hydrogen) will be employed in the customer-trial fleet, developed in collaboration with Linde and available for adoption through an ISO standard.

The use of liquid hydrogen not only increases the vehicle's range but also enhances its performance, making it comparable to conventional diesel trucks. The deployment of liquid hydrogen also offers advantages in terms of cost, weight, and payload capacity. Daimler Truck and its partners aim to establish a global mass market for this new refuelling process by promoting transparency and collaboration in developing compatible refuelling and vehicle technologies.

GenH2 Truck: Key Performance Figures and Ongoing Development

The GenH2 Truck, based on the Mercedes-Benz Actros long-haul truck, delivers impressive performance with a payload of approximately 25 tons at a gross combination weight of 40 tons. Two special liquid hydrogen tanks and a powerful cell centric fuel-cell system contribute to the high payload and extended range, making it suitable for long-distance haulage.

The fuel-cell system delivers 300 kilowatts, complemented by a temporary 400 kW from the battery. The relatively low 70 kWh battery capacity is designed to provide situational power support for the fuel cell during peak loads or challenging terrains. This unique operating strategy includes a cooling and heating system to maintain optimal component temperatures, ensuring maximum durability.

Daimler Truck's dual-track strategy involves the simultaneous development of hydrogen and battery-powered vehicles, each suited to specific transport needs. While battery-electric trucks excel in distribution haulage and planned long-distance routes, fuel-cell trucks, like the GenH2, are deemed more suitable for flexible and demanding deployments in heavy-duty transport and unpredictable long-distance haulage.

The successful demonstration of hydrogen fuel-cell technology during the #HydrogenRecordRun in September 2023, covering 1,047 km with one fill of liquid hydrogen, showcased the potential of the GenH2 Truck. Daimler Truck aims to introduce the series version in the latter half of the decade, reinforcing its commitment to offering CO2-neutral vehicles by 2039.

In conclusion, Daimler Truck's strategic partnerships and the launch of the Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Truck customer-trial fleet represent a pivotal moment in the transition towards sustainable and decarbonized transportation. As the world witnesses the fusion of innovation, industry collaboration, and real-world testing, the journey towards a greener future gains momentum, setting new benchmarks for the global commercial vehicle sector.

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