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DOE awards Cummins $1M to develop hydrogen rescue truck

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), in collaboration with the US Department of Defense and the US Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, has awarded Cummins, Inc. approximately $1 million in federal funds to develop H2Rescue, a hydrogen fuel cell truck that will travel to disaster relief sites and provide power, heat, and water. (Earlier post.)

The Cummins-led project was competitively selected under an industry solicitation issued in February to develop a fuel cell-powered hybrid truck that meets the needs of the emergency field in military and civilian markets.

As specified in the solicitation, the vehicle is to be a Class 5 or Class 6 truck, heavy-duty vocational vehicle. The envisioned fuel-cell/battery-powered hybrid emergency relief truck is to use a low temperature PEM fuel-cell/battery hybrid system to provide continuous electric power to meet emergency needs.

The truck is to operate on hydrogen fuel at pressures of either 350 bar (5,000 psi) or 700 bar (10,000 psi) with the ability to store enough hydrogen onboard to ensure the truck is capable of traveling 180 miles round trip to and from its emergency relief destination and then providing nominally 25kW of exportable power, at times sustained up to 72 hours.

With contributions from EERE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies and Vehicle Technologies Offices, and an equal match from industry, this investment aims to support transformational research, development, and demonstration activities in advanced fuel transportation technologies.

Earlier this month, Cummins received two other awards totaling nearly $7 million from the EERE for Cummins’ continued work on enhancing economic viability of fuel cell powertrain solutions for heavy-duty applications including on-highway tractor-trailers and buses.

Cummins is the project lead and is working with a number of public and private partners on these projects, which are part of DOE’s “H2@Scale” initiative to develop affordable hydrogen production, storage, distribution and use.

Cummins is a global leader in fuel cell applications with more than 2,000 fuel cells and 600 electrolyzers already put into use and is making continued efforts to deepen its capabilities and bring more hydrogen and fuel cell power solutions to markets.

The first award for approximately $3.5 million is for the development of an integrated fuel cell electric powertrain for heavy-duty trucks and transit buses with operational performance and total cost of ownership that supports near-term, rapid, and substantial penetration of the truck and bus market. This includes development of a solution that is highly manufacturable and scalable with a proven range of 300 miles or more and improved fuel economy over current heavy-duty trucks and transit buses. Other objectives include achieving, meeting or exceeding conventional diesel powertrain performance requirements and reducing the upfront capital costs by 35% to make the adoption of zero-emission fuel cell technologies viable for commercial fleets.

The second award for $3 million is to develop and validate a high pressure, modular, 100 kW proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell stack and system to power heavy-duty applications. The objective is to optimize the fuel cell stack for efficiency, power density, space and cost for operation at or above 100°C that can achieve a minimum operating time of 25,000 hours and achieve $80/kW in volume production, which is necessary to make the stacks economically viable in the US.

The fuel cell stack components will be developed and prototyped in the U.S. to encourage continued investment in this technology and increase scalability.

Cummins’ New Power segment, which combines the company’s investments in electrified powertrains, fuel cells and hydrogen production technology, completed its first full year in 2019.

The group successfully brought zero emissions electrified powertrains to bus markets in North America in 2019. Cummins also has more than 2,000 fuel cell installations across a variety of on and off-highway applications, as well as more than 600 electrolyzer installations to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

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