Hydrogen fuel cell manufacturer Loop Energy is unveiling a landmark fuel cell system at IAA Transportation 2022 in Hannover, Germany, today (20 September) which will slash the running cost of fuel cell powered trucks, bringing it on par with diesel costs.

According to Loop Energy, the 120 kW fuel cell system, known as the S1200, is designed to deliver up to 60% in net energy efficiency, compared to the typical 20% to 25% fuel-to-wheel efficiency delivered by a diesel vehicle.

It calculates that with hydrogen currently retailing as low as $10 per kg in Europe, a fully-loaded truck with 15% regenerative braking, fitted with the Loop Energy S1200 fuel cell with 60% efficiency would deliver $90 in fuel cost over 100 km.

With the typical fuel cell offering around 45% efficiency, and hydrogen costs not set to fall until 2030, according to a recent report by Deloitte, Loop Energy said this week its S1200 is bringing forward cost parity with diesel by four to eight years.

It added that the technology will also provide "significant" help to OEMs and operators making the transition away from diesel and governments striving to reach their net zero targets.

The S1200 is specifically designed for medium to heavy duty commercial vehicles offering a step up in power range and scope compared to its other fuel cell products.

Loop Energy attributes the efficency gain delivered by the S1200 to its patented eFlow fuel cell architecture. The company uses a signature trapezoid plate with narrowing channels for its bipolar plates, which increases gas velocity down the plate to deliver superior performance for fuel efficiency, and power output. This results in less hydrogen fuel used per kilometre, lowering the total cost of ownership (TCO) of hydrogen-electric commercial vehicles.

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With fuel costs make up roughly half of the total cost of ownership for heavy-duty hydrogen vehicles, any advance in fuel efficiency is a significant factor in helping reach a tipping point in transitioning from diesel to clean fuels.

The S1200 is delivered as a complete fuel cell system which makes it easy for OEMs to integrate as a ready-to adopt solution for heavy-duty transportation and power system applications.

Ben Nyland, Loop Energy president and CEO, said: “With the launch of our new fuel cell system, we are proud to be leading the way in making transport electrification economically viable. The S1200 brings world-leading fuel efficiency levels for medium to heavy-duty vehicles, crucially making the total cost of ownership lower and bringing fuel cost parity forward by four-to-eight years.”

“We are keen to work with OEMs, governments and the wider hydrogen industry to help meet zero-emission targets. We strongly believe that energy transition must happen now, and hydrogen fuel cell technology is in prime place as an alternative to diesel-powered vehicles.”