Like Australia Canada believes it has an opportunity to develop a hydrogen economy as it strives to meet its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, but the country believes it will need the trucking industry’s help.

A major project is already underway in the province of Alberta to demonstrate the viability of hydrogen as an alternative to diesel in the heavy-duty trucking industry.

The Alberta Zero Emissions Truck Electrification Collaboration (AZETEC) project will see two heavy-duty trucks hauling heavy loads at 63,500 kgs similar in mass to Australian B Doubles between the two major cities of Calgary and Edmonton. It is being administered by the Alberta Motor Transport Association.
The trucks require a 700-km range between fueling and will be operated by Bison Transport and Trimac, pulling fully loaded B-trains and twin-53s. Marcel Pouliot, vice-president of industry and regulatory affairs at Trimac, presented details of the project during Movin’ On, a virtual sustainability conference earlier this month.

The first two trucks are in the design stage, and will be deployed by July 2021. They’ll be tested on-highway until December 2022, with the goal of ramping up production of hydrogen electric fuel cell trucks, and the required fueling infrastructure in the years to come.

The hydrogen will be produced using Alberta natural gas through a steam methane reforming process. The cost of the project will be around $AUD18 million, with the Alberta government chipping in $AUD8 million through its Emissions Reductions Alberta program.

Trucks being used are Freightliner Cascadia glider kits, with Ballard Power providing the hydrogen fuel cells and on-board storage systems. Dana is providing the drivetrain and e-propulsion systems, and will assemble the tractors at its recently acquired Nordresa subsidiary in Montreal.

There are three objectives to the program including the aim of the Canadian trucking industry reducing its reliance on internal combustion engines, to provide a credible and compelling solution for the trucking sector to pursue zero-emissions transport, and for trucking to serve as a needed anchor for the development and distribution of hydrogen in Canada.

Like Australia Canada is also well positioned to leverage its natural resources to be a producer of hydrogen.

The steam methane reforming method being used initially results in an 80-90 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases compared to diesel.
It can also be produced using renewable electricity, but at a higher cost. Hydrogen production costs must come in at $AUD4.50-$AUD6 per kilogram to be cost-competitive with diesel at a pre-tax price of 0.90 cents per ltr. It is believed that ydrogen can be produced in Alberta for as little as $AUD1.20kg.

Electricity costs of less than $AUD35 per megawatt hour (Mwh) make lower-emissions “green” hydrogen production viable. To scale up the project to more than 1,000 trucks, fueling stations will need to be built along key transport corridors, with the capability of providing one to three tons of hydrogen per day.

And the trucks themselves will have to be specced differently, right down to the tyres which will need to manage higher torque outputs, Pouliot added. Even pricing will be impacted, with the traditional fuel surcharge and fuel tax collection methods restructure