Volvo CE opens first hydrogen fuel cell lab
Sees tech as an alternative power source for heavy equipment Metal Tech News – May 26, 2021
Last updated 5/25/2021 at 5:24pm
Volvo Construction Equipment recently opened a lab to test and develop hydrogen fuel cell technology solutions in heavy construction machines and other applications, marking a significant advancement in Volvo Group's ambition to be fossil-free by 2040.
As part of the company's commitment to the Science-Based Targets initiative – considered a necessary measure to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement – this investment will offer Volvo Group unique conditions to test and develop hydrogen fuel cell technology solutions in heavy construction machines and other applications.
The new dedicated lab, located at the Volvo CE Technical Center in Eskilstuna, Sweden, signifies a large step forward in the company's commitment to hydrogen.
"Fuel cell technology is a key enabler of sustainable solutions for heavier construction machines, and this investment provides us with another vital tool in our work to reach Science-Based Targets," said Volvo CE Head of Sustainable Power Toni Hagelberg. "The lab will also serve Volvo Group globally, as it's the first to offer this kind of advanced testing. It's a really exciting step to accelerate the development of fuel cell solutions towards our united vision for a carbon neutral society."
If successful in the development of sustainable and stable hydrogen fuel cells at scale it will play a key role in overall electromobility.
The concept is fairly simple, fuel cells work by combining hydrogen with oxygen, with the resulting chemical reaction generating electricity. The process is completely emission-free, with the only byproduct being water vapor.
In principle, a fuel cell works much like a battery, except that it generates its own electricity from the hydrogen on-board rather than being charged from an external source. This means it would be capable of delivering longer driving ranges, and therefore is more feasible for long-haul transportation and heavier equipment.
"Hydrogen can be produced in many different ways and it's important to have a life-cycle approach across the entire value chain," said Hagelberg. "Not only will the research and development carried out at the test lab be dedicated to producing fossil-free construction solutions, we will also look at how the hydrogen itself has been produced, and strive for so called 'green' hydrogen produced from renewable energy."
The fuel cell test lab seeks to emulate the recent launch of cell centric, a joint venture by Volvo Group and Daimler Truck to accelerate the development, production and commercialization of fuel cell solutions within long-haul trucking and beyond.
Together with battery electric solutions and more sustainable internal combustion offerings, Volvo CE sees hydrogen fuel cells as a key component to its overall electromobility aspirations. With all three streams working in alignment on the journey toward a carbon-neutral society.
While battery electric solutions are ideal for urban construction and e-mobility, the size of the batteries needed for larger machines and heavy construction equipment is currently considered impractical, which is the hope of hydrogen as a promising alternative.