Geelong researchers are at the forefront of research assisting the heavy transport sector to reduce its emissions.

Deakin University’s hydrogen program Hycel, will partner with PACCAR Australia to develop zero-emissions solutions for the market, using the first hydrogen prime mover prototype in the country.

The truck is one of 10 prototype Kenworth T680 Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) in existence and was included in world-first operational trials in the Port of Los Angeles in 2022.

It forms the centre of Hycel’s hydrogen mobility program, with an initial focus on the performance characteristics of a heavy vehicle hydrogen fuel cell powertrain.

The heavy transport sector currently contributes an estimated two per cent of Australia’s carbon emissions, and the Hycel program aim to apply Deakin’s unique engineering, materials, data and IT expertise to assist the industry in its transition from diesel to zero-emissions hydrogen solutions.

Deakin University’s Hycel and PACCAR Australia will develop zero-emissions solutions for the domestic heavy haulage market using the first hydrogen prime mover in Australia. Picture: Supplied/Marcel Voestermans

Deakin University’s Hycel and PACCAR Australia will develop zero-emissions solutions for the domestic heavy haulage market using the first hydrogen prime mover in Australia. Picture: Supplied/Marcel Voestermans

Hycel deputy research director Associate Professor Michael Pereira said the partnership was a unique opportunity to work with one the world’s most advanced hydrogen trucks.

“This hardware is critical to complementing our laboratory work,” Professor Pereira said.

Hycel will begin the research by analysing data from the US pilot program, and aim to understand how key elements of a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain perform and respond to operational demands.

“From here, we are developing state-of-the-art computer simulation models to predict the hydrogen fuel cell system and powertrain demands for Australia’s unique freight haulage conditions,” Prof Pereira said.

“Specifically, we’re addressing the Australian transport sector’s demands to deliver more payload per truck over longer distances, when compared to other places in the world.”

The research has begun on Deakin’s Waurn Ponds campus and will in the future continue at the $24m Hycel Technology Hub – a bespoke hydrogen research, demonstration and training facility currently under construction on Deakin’s Warrnambool campus, due for completion in November, 2023.

Deakin’s deputy vice chancellor of research, Professor Julie Owens, said the university was combining research expertise in science, technology and education to meet the needs of Australia’s emerging hydrogen industry.

“Decarbonising Australia’s heavy vehicle transport is a vital step toward reducing emissions and achieving reduction targets,” Prof Owens said.

“As research and innovation partner to businesses like PACCAR Australia, we are thrilled to advance uptake of hydrogen in our nation’s clean energy future.”

The truck prototypes are on display at the Brisbane Truck Show until May 21.

For more information, visit https://www.deakin.edu.au/hycel

SHARE THIS ARTICLE: