Daimler Truck tests fuel-cell truck with liquid hydrogen

By Becky Schultz27 June 2022

The development objective of the GenH2 truck is a range of up to 1,000 km or more, which would allow for use in the heavy-duty long-haul transport segment. (Photo: Daimler Truck)

Since last year, Daimler Truck has been testing a Mercedes-Benz GenH2 fuel cell prototype truck with pressurized hydrogen tanks, running the vehicle on its in-house test track as well as on public roads. It now announces that another prototype model is being placed into operation to test the use of liquid hydrogen (LH2) as its fuel source – another next step in moving closer to its goal of series production for hydrogen-based trucks by the second half of the decade.

In announcing the latest prototype, Daimler Trucks noted it prefers LH2 in the development of hydrogen-based drives due to its significantly higher energy density in relation to volume compared to gaseous hydrogen. This means more hydrogen can be carried, increasing the range and enabling comparable performance to a conventional diesel-powered vehicle. The development objective of the GenH2 truck is a range of up to 1,000 km or more, which would allow for use in demanding applications including the critical heavy-duty long-haul transport segment.

To facilitate testing, a newly installed prototype LH2 filling station, developed in collaboration with Air Liquide, has been installed at the development and testing center in Wörth am Rhein, Germany. During the refueling process, cryogenic liquid hydrogen at -253 degrees C is filled into two 40 kg tanks mounted on either side of the truck chassis. The insulation of the tanks ensures hydrogen can be kept at temperature for a sufficiently long time without active cooling.

Liquid hydrogen has a significantly higher energy density in relation to volume compared to gaseous hydrogen. This means more hydrogen can be carried, extending the vehicle range. (Photo: Daimler Truck)

Daimler Truck is also working with Linde on development of a new process for handling liquid hydrogen, known as “subcooled” liquid hydrogen, or sLH2 technology. This approach allows for even higher storage density and easier refuelling compared to LH2. The companies plan for the first refueling of a prototype vehicle at a pilot station in Germany in 2023. A “high level of transparency and openness” around the project is intended to foster collaboration with other companies and associations to advance the market for the sLH2 process.

To further hydrogen-based vehicle technology as a whole, Daimler Truck said it:

  • will work with Shell, BP and TotalEnergies in the development of infrastructure for hydrogen filling stations along important transport routes in Europe;
  • serves as a shareholder in hydrogen filling station operator H2 Mobility Deutschland;
  • and has committed to work with Iveco, Linde, OMV, Shell, TotalEnergies and the Volvo Group to help create conditions for mass market rollout of hydrogen trucks in Europe as part of the H2Accelerate (H2A) interest group.

Daimler Truck is currently pursuing a dual-track strategy in the electrification of its vehicle portfolio with both battery electric and hydrogen-based drives, with the stated objective of offering only carbon-neutral new vehicles in its global core markets by 2039.

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