Freudenberg explains the advantages of fuel cells for long-distance buses and trucks

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Freudenberg explains the advantages of fuel cells for long-distance buses and trucks-explains

A well-known German technology company is working with Freudenberg on the further development of the fuel cell drive, including for use in long-distance buses, as in the HyFleet project, a cooperation with ZF Friedrichshafen, FlixBus and an unnamed European bus manufacturer. The manager responsible for this, Michael Milch, Freudenberg‘s Head of Sales & Marketing for the fuel cell business, spoke in detail in an interview with Electrive about the opportunities and challenges of the hydrogen drive.

In addition to buses, Freudenberg has also been manufacturing fuel cell components for cars, trucks, ships and various heavy-duty applications for years. However, the know-how from the car sector cannot be transferred one-to-one to long-distance buses and trucks, as Milch explains: “Today’s fuel cell systems come primarily from car development and have a completely different objective,” says the manager. This applies, for example, to the service life of the systems: a minimum service life of 5,000 to 8,000 hours is assumed for passenger cars. “For heavy-duty applications, on the other hand, customers expect 35.000, in the maritime sector up to 50.000 hours”.

The different expectations are related to the different requirement profiles for the application, Milch continues: “Cars sometimes only drive for one hour a day and stand still for 23 hours. But heavy-duty vehicles need to make money. Downtime costs money”. It is similar in long-distance transport, which is why Freudenberg is striving to make hydrogen buses “technically and commercially competitive” in long-distance transport and to find the ideal combination of service life and efficiency.

The initial question is: “How much energy can I bring into the vehicle and what is the condition of the refueling infrastructure, i.e. how quickly can I bring energy back into the vehicle when refueling?In order to answer this, the HyFleet project was started, among other things. For long-distance buses, Freudenberg is aiming for a realistic range of initially 500 kilometers with one tankful. That is “the customer’s claim and that is a value that can also be created with today’s possibilities,” explains Milch. The target for hydrogen trucks in long-distance transport is also achievable, which is around 1000 kilometers without a refueling stop.

“We don’t see any competition between batteries and fuel cells

On the ongoing topic of discussion, whether the purely electric or the hydrogen-based drive is the better one, Milch says that Freudenberg is open to technology and sees “no competition between batteries and fuel cells“. The company conducts “quite unbiased discussions about the various drive technologies” with its customers, for example with a view to ranges and specific application scenarios. That the battery is currently in advantage, it is not surprising because “the technological maturity is higher in this area”. However, milk assumes that the fuel cell should have caught up with this residue after some development steps “by mid-decade”.

Especially in long-distance buses and trucks, the fuel cell is clearly in the advantage, for example due to the faster refueling opposite the electric load. “Operators can not allow themselves to have vehicles at a standstill during charging,” explains milk. Furthermore, it is “also a question of the area requirement, whether one creates very large load parks for commercial vehicles, where, for example, six trucks on six charging columns have to load for one hour and are not operational for this period”. Or whether one as an alternative rather “only one H2 petrol pump builds, which can supply six vehicles in an hour, but with the significant difference that a truck is fully filled every ten minutes and can do his job again immediately”.

In short: With the fuel cell drive, refueling is “simpler and more cost-efficient, with less space required”. Such considerations regarding the space and cost requirements of the infrastructure are “currently not very present, since only a few electrified commercial vehicles are on the road, but they will become more relevant,” says Milch.

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8 thoughts on “Freudenberg explains the advantages of fuel cells for long-distance buses and trucks”

  1. M. Milch, Head of Sales & Marketing is quoted as saying:

    “It is not surprising that the battery currently has an advantage, since “the level of technological maturity in this area is higher”. Milch assumes, however, that the fuel cell should have caught up this deficit after a few development steps “by the middle of the decade”.«

    Of course, he does not name the much more obvious disadvantages of H2 – in addition to a technological maturity level, namely
    • 3 times the use of energy compared to. battery storage
    • Continued lack of green hydrogen
    • higher maintenance and repair costs

  2. An electric truck could also recharge its battery while being loaded with cargo.
    It is hardly possible to increase the energy density in hydrogen storage.
    An electric truck will hardly have to charge for 1 hour, rather less than 40 minutes.

  3. This is simply the abridged and somewhat biased version of a longer interview published on another electric car forum. There the chain of arguments is closed, coherent and comprehensible.
    What I have seen here as criticism so far are the same objections that have been refuted dozens of times, either in principle or for specific purposes.

    With mathematics knowledge, which were couled on a primary school level, one can not imagine how two curves (weight, price, volume, …) behavior, which can not be scaled separately in a case of increasing amount of energy, …), in one case. Case but already. At best, one can argue about the energy capacity above which the battery becomes absurd for an application, but not whether this is the case.

  4. When it comes to hydrogen and FC, you can Greening nuclear power and natural gas not forgotten by the EU Commission. I suspect that more and more green painted hydrogen from nuclear power and natural gas should make the FCEV and especially the new H2 burners in the truck sector (a lot of work is being done on this) pseudo-environmentally friendly, so that basically everything stays the same – incl. noise.

    It’s going to be a long fight to get most long-distance freight back on the rails and get people to not need 2-ton electric cars to get from A to B.

    I hope that in the future the cities will be more people-friendly to be designed to build space for strolling, relaxing and playing and streets are only so wide, so that fire brigade and ambulance can get through, but no room for rows of cars on the roadside is.

    In the future, cars will then be on the outskirts of the cities (or. districts of large cities) on large video-monitored parking lots or houses covered with PV systems, which can be reached by public transport, bicycle (pedelec) or autonomous minibuses. From there, people can then start into the surrounding area.

    Climate and physics can neither read nor hear what politicians, corporations and their lobbyists think up as pseudo-green and they will therefore not follow it at all, but will follow their rules with heat, floods, storms and droughts and every now and then with an ancient and dilapidated nuclear power plant that will be blown up react.

    Let’s see how the fight of politicians and lobbyists from the field of nuclear power, fossil energies and combustion engines against citizens and above all against the environment ends – hopefully citizens and the environment will win.

  5. It is interesting that after NIO, the largest battery manufacturer CATL is now also relying on exchangeable battery stations and wants to roll them out in 10 large Chinese cities – that would also be an approach for trucks on long-haul routes!

  6. If you have to explain something first, that’s bad. Good things are self-explanatory. For example, a bus that runs purely electrically.

    In a very short time you will reach the corridor where the prescribed driver breaks are sufficient as loading time and can be used. And later, separate lanes will be set up for autonomous trucks, which may also have a power supply. At least the hubs and waiting areas could have one.

  7. The battery will be further improved in terms of energy density and the range will thus increase significantly. I see a charging capacity of 300 kW as feasible in the short term, and even 500 kW in the medium term. If in future the trucks are charged with two charging cables (additional vehicle and trailer or semi-trailer), approx. 600 kWh of energy can be charged. That’s enough for approx. 1000km. After that, one way or another, a break is due.

  8. Hi first,
    Hydrogen/fuel technology is a purely electric propulsion, as the electric motor is powered by electricity.
    A lot of electricity is required to produce hydrogen…

    It is repeatedly claimed that fuel technology is not electromobility..

    With electrical greetings


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