Kenworth's hydrogen-powered truck

Feb 10, 2018 in Technology, News

The Consumer Electronics Show took place in January earlier this year. While considered to be primarily an event introducing new cell phones, games and apps. This year, in Las Vegas, the CES had a bit of a trucking vibe added showing off some of the most high-tech trucks in the world.

One of those trucks was the Kenworth T680 day cab, part of the Paccar Innovations booth exhibit. What makes it special is that it is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.

Now let’s dig deep into this fact.

The hydrogen fuel cell of the T680 combines air and compressed hydrogen gas in order to create electricity, while the only thing that exits the tailpipe is water vapor. The truck uses a dual-rotor electric motor to move around, which can be powered by the mentioned electricity, produced by the hydrogen gas and the air. The electricity can also be used to recharge the lithium-ion batteries of truck for later. The power from the fuel cell is managed by the hybrid drive system, which uses it to power the traction motors, the electrified power steering, the brake air compressor and the other components of the Kenworth T680.

According to the company, the truck will be perfect for short hauls and port operations with its initial range of 150 miles. The dual-rotor traction motor has an output of 565 horse power and can carry the legal gross combination weight like most Class 8 trucks. While the motors are rated at 420 kW at a constant rate, Kenworth’s manager of Research and Development notes that they will peak higher. The day cab’s output is limited to about 300 kW right now, until the systems get validated.

Another interesting thing

While the initial torque of the truck can be noteworthy, when the truck builds its speed it begins to feel much more normal. If you are looking for a noisy truck, the T680 may not be for you, because other than the faint sound of the cooling fans, the truck doesn’t make much sound.

Stephen Olson, the director of product planning for Kenworth claims that the T680’s hydrogen fuel-cell is reality. The truck is performing very well in the trials in the Seattle area. The next step for the T680 is real-world testing with TTSI (Total Transportation Services Inc.) at the Southern California’s ports.

The Kenworth T680 is part of the Zero Emission Cargo Transport demonstration project. The develop of the truck is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, while the prime applicant is the Southern California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD).

The next step for Kenworth is creating a near-zero emission-capable T680 day cab, with a near-zero natural gas engine and extended battery range.