Could hydrogen energy revolutionize the trucking industry?
Although hydrogen power hasn’t made much progress in personal transportation yet, it could be a big winner in heavy trucking. In this crazy live excerpt from “The High Energy Show”, recorded on February 15Motley Fool contributor Jason Hall talks about the potential benefits of hydrogen power for trucking power.
Travis Houm: We’re also starting to see some products coming into the commercial trucking market.
Jason Hall: Yeah. It’s funny because Nikola Motor has kind of been a meme for a lot of the wrong reasons. The co-founder of the company, whose name escapes me at the moment, but I have followed Nikola for a very long time as I have followed heavy haulage, commercial freight forwarding and the whole industry seeking change their emissions profile. I lived in Southern California for a long time, started following clean energy. The reality is that a massive amount of emissions that have occurred in urban areas are produced by heavy trucking. Where you have ports, you have manufacturing facilities, you have buses going to airports, all of those things. The industry began to take an interest in natural gas a number of years ago and has made progress in its transition to natural gas and now to renewable natural gas. But you still see broadcasts.
Why does natural gas usually win out over batteries? Because it addresses some of these energy density issues. If you have a Class 8 tractor carrying a trailer longer than 50 feet, the maximum weight for that vehicle, gross weight is 80,000 pounds. You can’t take 15 or 20,000 pounds which is normally freight and add batteries because that’s less freight you can carry and that’s how you make money. This is the energy density part. To get the full range and operate in all the areas that need to work is the way. But then time is money.
Travis was speaking, we’ve seen the big advancements in current charging stations and the battery’s ability to reach 80% of your range in 15 or 20 minutes. If you are a class A truck, dump truck, or one of those heavy vehicles, it’s not 15 minutes. That’s three hours to get half your range. It does not work for these industries. Natural gas, in the meantime, has become that transitional fuel, and now, with renewable natural gas, it’s really a compelling thing. At the end of the day, you still have range limits. You have extra weight and hydrogen which is interesting even though he hasn’t made any progress in personal transport he could still be a big winner in heavy trucking and commercial transport because you get this energy density. You can get enough hydrogen on the vehicle in liquid hydrogen to get an 800 mile range. Then, when you need to refuel, you only have a few minutes left to fill your tank.
By the way, you also get all the other benefits that make electric vehicles so appealing. Why was You’re here managed 0 to 60 in three seconds. This is why Tesla succeeded. You get the exceptional horsepower and torque of those heavy-duty vehicles that need that power without any emissions besides water. It’s really fascinating in this field of road transport.
Travis Houm: What you see is from the powertrain perspective. You effectively have the same powertrain as in an electric vehicle.
Jason Hall: Yeah. You just have a fuel cell that generates electricity instead of batteries. You have hydrogen, combine it with air, oxygen, you get water from the tailpipe and you have electricity to run the vehicle. It’s really convincing. Travis, I know marine applications, because you think of global emissions, container ships, cruise ships, massive source of pollution. Santa Barbara, California, Nick, just south of where you are, a little bit south of where you are, but the channel that runs right through there between Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands, the biggest source of pollution from the air of Santa Barbara, it’s the container ships going up and down the coast, going from southern California to the ports there. It’s a huge global problem.
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