What better way to transport hydrogen than in a hydrogen-powered fuel cell truck?

That’s what engine and power company Cummins Inc. and Air Products and Chemicals, the world’s largest producer of hydrogen, are planning for about 2,000 trucks that Air Products uses globally.

The companies signed a memorandum of understanding that should see the first demonstration  units on the road by 2022.

Air Products (NYSE: APD) supplies and transports hydrogen. Cummins (NYSE: CMI)  will provide  fuel cell electric powertrains integrated into selected manufacturers’ heavy-duty trucks. Cummins announced in November 2020 that it was integrating a fuel cell system into a Navistar International Class 8 truck for Werner Enterprises (NASDAQ: WERN).

“We believe hydrogen is the future for heavy-duty segments of the transportation market and we can demonstrate to the world its merits by being a first mover in transitioning our heavy-duty fleet of trucks to hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles,” Seifi Ghasemi, Air Products’ chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a press release.

“Nothing says more about our company’s approach to sustainability than a fleet of zero-emission vehicles on the road delivering product to customers every day.”

Seifi Ghasemi, Air Products’ chairman, president and CEO

“Nothing says more about our company’s approach to sustainability than a fleet of zero-emission vehicles on the road delivering product to customers every day.”

Trains and trucks

Cummins, which is providing fuel cells for passenger trains in Germany, showed a demonstration fuel cell truck at the North American Commercial Vehicles show in October 2019. The company has acquired fuel cell-related several businesses in recent years, adding to its ability to develop the powertrains along with its better-known capability in diesel engines.

“This is another turning point for hydrogen and the energy transition,” said Tom Linebarger, Cummins’ chairman and chief executive officer. “As we develop the technologies of tomorrow, we need the partnership of others to be successful, and this partnership with Air Products is the next step in leading the industry on the path to a zero-emissions future.”

Leading by example

Cummins and Air Products also will work together to make renewable, or green, hydrogen more accessible.

“Only hydrogen fuel cell vehicles can provide the necessary range, refueling time and weight requirements to decarbonize this important transportation sector,” said Eric Guter, Air Products’ vice president for hydrogen for mobility solutions. 

Cummins powers hundreds of zero-emission battery-electric and fuel cell-powered buses around the world. The company makes proton exchange membrane electrolyzers and has deployed more than 2,000 fuel cells and 600 electrolyzers globally. 

“The best way to promote the adoption of hydrogen for mobility in heavy-duty applications is for us to have units on the road and lead by example,” said Amy Davis, president of the New Power division at Cummins. “The semi-truck market is a major opportunity for hydrogen due to its rigorous requirements.”

Competition growing

Hydrogen is gaining popularity in long-haul applications. 

Rochester, New York-based Hyzon Motors (NASDAQ: HYZN), a spinoff of Singapore’s Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies, began public trading last week following its business combination with Decarbonization Plus Acquisition Corp. It is expanding in Europe and Australasia and has contracts for a commercial truck with 1,000 miles of range and another weighing 154 tons.

Nikola Corp. (NASDAQ: NKLA) is targeting 2023 for delivery of its first fuel cell-equipped daycabs followed by an over-the-road conventional tractor targeting 900 miles between hydrogen refuelings.

Related articles: 

Cummins, Navistar developing fuel cell truck for Werner testing

Cummins sees $400M in revenue from making hydrogen in 2025

Cummins dives into hydrogen as traditional engine business stalls

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.