If you want to operate a truck as environmentally friendly as possible – opt for one with a Hydrogen fuel cell.
I know that’s not really an option for most truck owners or operators in Australia today, however, this report out of the U.S. might be a sign of where things are headed in coming decades.
Declaring hydrogen powertrains as the least-damaging powertrain option for a long-haul truck was the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI).
Despite their unparalleled clean credentials, the ATRI report acknowledges that Hydrogen fuel cell trucks are not really presently feasible for long-haul duties at this stage.
That’s due mostly to a lack of refueling infrastructure available at present.
So, are plug-in electric trucks really that environmentally friendly?
The report found that electric trucks aren’t as clean and green as you may have thought, and that’s mostly due to their batteries.
“While electric trucks have no direct tailpipe emissions, CO2 production associated with vehicle, battery, and electricity production only results in a 30% decrease in CO2 emissions when compared to a standard diesel truck.” – ATRI Report
The report says the marginal environmental benefits are mostly due to the carbon emissions generated during the production of lithium-ion batteries.
Also impacting the credentials of plug-in electric trucks, according to the study, was the U.S.’s ongoing reliance on fossil fuels for electricity production.
While the report says Hydrogen sourced from solar power electricity could enable hydrogen fuel cell trucks to emit only 8.8% of the baseline diesel CO2.
And of course, with hydrogen, there are zero tailpipe emissions (other than water vapor), and they run completely silent too.
At this stage, many of the leading global truck manufacturers are working on hydrogen technology, all to varying degrees, but some of the leaders in the field include Daimler Trucks and Volvo.
Hyundai, as seen above, is also deep into the tech.
While some powertrain manufacturers, including Cummins, also see the potential benefits.