Safe, Fast and Simple: Daimler Truck and Linde Set New Standard for Liquid Hydrogen Refueling Technology


Daimler Truck and Linde Engineering recently announced they have reached an important infrastructure breakthrough on the path towards decarbonizing transportation with hydrogen. Over the past few years, engineers from both companies have jointly developed sLH2, a new process for handling subcooled liquid hydrogen. When compared to gaseous hydrogen, this innovative approach allows for a higher storage density, a greater range, faster refueling, lower costs and superior energy efficiency. Refueling takes around 10 to 15 min for a 40 t heavy-duty truck, carrying 80 kg of liquid hydrogen for a range of 1,000 km and more.

At the same time, the new sLH2 technology lowers the required investment for a hydrogen refueling station by a factor of 2 to 3, and operational costs are 5 to 6 times lower. Today, liquid hydrogen can be supplied reliably throughout Europe.

Compared to regular liquid hydrogen (LH2) refueling technology, the new process uses a new innovative sLH2 pump to slightly increase the pressure of the liquid hydrogen. With this method, the hydrogen becomes subcooled liquid hydrogen (sLH2). Hydrogen in this state, facilitates a very robust fueling process that also keeps energy losses during refueling to a minimum. Furthermore, no data transmission between the refueling station and vehicle is necessary, which further reduces the complexity of the solution. At the same time, refueling capacity is increased to new levels. The pilot refueling station has a capacity of 400 kg/h of liquid hydrogen. In comparison to regular liquid or gaseous hydrogen refueling concepts, sLH2 is considerably simpler while delivering increased performance.

Aiming to establish a common refueling standard for hydrogen-powered trucks, the technology is made openly available to all interested parties via an ISO standard.

“Zero-emission transport needs 3 factors: the right battery-electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, the required infrastructure network and cost parity for ZEVs compared to diesel trucks. In terms of vehicles, the transformation is in full swing. In terms of hydrogen infrastructure, we are reaching a major milestone today: With sLH2, hydrogen refueling becomes as convenient as today’s refueling with diesel. We now call on other OEMs and infrastructure companies to follow our approach and jointly make this technology an industry standard,” declared Andreas Gorbach, member of the Board of management of Daimler Truck AG, responsible for Truck Technology.

The new public sLH2 refueling station in Wörth am Rhein, Germany, sets a benchmark in terms of energy efficiency and performance. With energy consumption of only 0.05 kWh/kg, it requires approximately 30 times less energy compared with conventional gaseous hydrogen refueling. The refueling station has a small footprint of just 50 m2 (not including the dispenser) and allows for configurations where several dispensers for parallel refueling of trucks are possible, as well as back-to-back refueling. The liquid hydrogen storage tank has a capacity of 4 t, sufficient for approximately 10 h of non-stop refueling. Meanwhile, the capacity of the sLH2 fuel station can be increased to over 8 t/d with refilling. A lower initial investment and operational costs for the sLH2 technology is expected to ultimately result in lower total cost of ownership.

Daimler Truck prefers liquid hydrogen in the development of hydrogen-based drives. In this aggregate state, the energy carrier has a far higher energy density in relation to volume than gaseous hydrogen. As a result, the tanks of a fuel-cell truck using liquid hydrogen are more cost efficient compared to the carbon tanks used for gaseous hydrogen. And due to the lower pressure, they are also significantly lighter. The technology thus enables a higher payload, and at the same time, more hydrogen can be carried, which significantly increases the trucks’ range.

From mid-2024 onward, 5 companies are expected to take part in initial customer trials to gain first experience in CO2-free long-distance transport with Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Trucks. The semi-trailer tractors will be deployed in different long-haul applications on specific routes within Germany, and they will be refueled at the now open public sLH2 refueling station in Wörth am Rhein and at a refueling station in the Duisburg area. Daimler Truck and its partner companies are thus creating a lighthouse project with the aim to demonstrate that decarbonized transport with hydrogen-powered trucks is already possible today. However, for the transformation to succeed, it will be necessary in the coming years to ensure the buildup of an international refueling infrastructure and a sufficient supply of green liquid hydrogen.

Source: Daimler Truck AG

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