Kenworth has showcased a hydrogen fuel cell electric truck during a media event at the Paccar Technical Center in Mount Vernon, Washington this week.

The company originally unveiled the fuel cell truck during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, showing the T680 day cab truck which is powered by a 30-kg hydrogen fuel cell that charges a 100 kW-h capacity battery.

Touted by Kenworth as a zero emissions truck, the hydrogen fuel cell electric power unit combines compressed hydrogen gas and air to produce electricity, releasing only water vapor from the exhaust.

Due to the weight of the battery and its components, the ZECT (Zero Emissions Cargo Transport) tips the scale at 10000kg., significantly more than a traditional diesel truck of a similar size, which which usually weigh around 7500kg.

Brian Lindgren, research and development manager for Kenworth, said they were in the early stages of the truck’s testing, and have only been in the driving phase since December 2017.

The hydrogen fuel cell’s 30 kg capacity (six tanks with five kilograms of hydrogen) equates to a range of approximately 100kms, and a fully charged battery will travel 17kms with a full payload.

Stephan Olsen, Kenworth director of product planning, said they have been testing the truck in the Seattle area and are now ready for real-world testing with Total Transportation Services at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach where the truck will eventually be introduced.

“Our testing shows that this truck performs equally as well, if not better than, current diesel trucks on the market,” Olsen said. “There is a lot of promise and we see the day where Kenworth’s zero and near-zero emission trucks could be a common sight in regional operations.”

The truck is equipped with a four-speed automated Eaton transmission, XALT Xpand 650 VDC batteries, and a Ballard Power HC85 fuel cell engine developed and manufactured by Ballard Power Systems based in Burnaby, in British Columbia.

Demand for zero-emission offerings is being driven in states like California, with regulations mandating such efforts.

Kenworth received $AUD3.5 million in funding to develop the hydrogen fuel cell electric T680 truck from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, with Southern California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District being the prime applicant and project oversight provided by the Center for Transportation and the Environment.

The lifespan of the battery ranges from six to 10 years and is temperature controlled with a cooling and heating system, which Lindgren said would mitigate any issues in cold or hot weather conditions. He added, however, that the initial intent is to help mitigate air pollution in the L.A. basin and that expansion of the application throughout North America would be pursued at a later date.

Unlike a traditional diesel truck, the ZECT is quiet as a mouse, which is not only beneficial from a noise pollution perspective but also for the driver.

The truck is expected to hit the streets the US by the end of March.