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CTA Carriers Involved in Hydrogen Fuel Freight Project

An industry-led, $15-million project will test the ability of hydrogen to fuel the province’s heavy-duty freight transportation sector, a first step in exploring a potential made-in-Alberta hydrogen economy.

Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing more than $7.3 million to the Alberta Zero-Emissions Truck Electrification Collaboration (AZETEC) project, led by the Alberta Motor Transport Association. ERA is providing the funding through its competitive BEST Challenge program, which targets technologies that demonstrate potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Alberta and secure the province’s success in a lower-carbon economy.

The three-year AZETEC project, scheduled to run until mid-2022, involves two heavy-duty, extended-range, hydrogen fuel cell electric hybrid trucks – run by Trimac Transportation and Bison Transport – that will move freight year-round between Edmonton and Calgary.

The 64 tonne, B-train tractor-trailers, capable of travelling up to 700 kilometres between refueling, will be the first vehicles of this size and capacity built and tested in the world. By the end of the project, they will have travelled more than 500,000 kilometres and carried about 20 million tonne-kilometres of freight by two Alberta trucking companies,

These The AZETEC project builds on more than a year’s worth of research, data analysis and scenario modelling done by the Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research (CESAR) Initiative, examining various low or zero-carbon energy systems and the economic opportunity for hydrogen in Alberta.

If the project is successful it will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions during the pilot, and also inform next steps for Alberta to become a global leader in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

In addition to having zero tailpipe emissions, electric trucks are able to provide higher torque than diesel-fueled trucks, which is useful for pulling heavy loads, accelerating and climbing steep grades. An electric motor paired with a fuel cell system has a more efficient powertrain than a diesel-fueled internal combustion engine. Electric fuel cell hybrid vehicles also are expected to have considerably lower maintenance costs than internal combustion engine vehicles.

The AZETEC project will be managed by Zen Clean Energy Solutions, a Vancouver-based consultancy with a wealth of experience in designing and managing hydrogen fuel cell electric projects. The fuel cell technologies at the core of the vehicles will be provided by Ballard Power in Burnaby, B.C., which will be working closely with Dana Inc., a global leader in heavy-duty electric drive axles, and Nordresa, a Quebec-based electric drive train manufacturer. The tractor bodies in which the hydrogen fuel cell electric technology will be deployed will be provided by Freightliner/Daimler.

Edmonton facilities operated by Air Products and Praxair will provide the high-purity compressed hydrogen. HTEC, based in Vancouver, will deliver their technology to fuel the trucks during the 18-month field trial that will begin as soon as the vehicles are built.

CESAR will coordinate the research and modelling activities around the project, including assessing performance of the technologies, and co-developing with academic, industry and government partners, possible transition pathways for the larger-scale deployment of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles and the hydrogen economy in Alberta.

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