Venture hatches “hydrogen hubs” to power fuel-cell garbage trucks—from waste

Fuel-cell commercial-vehicle firm Hyzon Motors and renewable-fuels company Raven SR plan to build 100 “hydrogen hubs” that will power fuel-cell garbage trucks with hydrogen generated from the very refuse they haul.

The hubs will be built at landfills, and will power other commercial vehicles in addition to garbage trucks, Hyzon said in a press release. The first two sites will be in California, with the first expected to open in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2022, the company said. The quoted total of 100 sites includes the United States and other countries.

Hydrogen will be produced using Raven SR’s zero-combustion process, which is cost-competitive to other processes that use hydrocarbons, but with a lower environmental impact, according to Hyzon. This will provide enough hydrogen to power 30 heavy-duty trucks from one garbage truck of waste, according to the company.

Hyzon Motors hydrogen fuel-cell stack

Hyzon Motors hydrogen fuel-cell stack

Each of the initial sites is expected to process up to 50 tons of solid waste per day, yielding up to 4.5 tons of hydrogen, enough to power 100 heavy-duty trucks, Hyzon said. Future sites will be able to scale to five times that capacity, the company said.

If successful, this model could solve some of the problems surrounding hydrogen production. It’s also in step toward industry trends emphasizing commercial applications for fuel cells.

However, most of those efforts have focused on larger semi trucks, rather than the shorter-range trucks that would actually haul waste to be turned into hydrogen. Two industry partnerships—between Daimler and Volvo and General Motors and Navistar

—aim to produce fuel-cell semi trucks. Toyota has already demonstrated prototypes in short-haul service around Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, while unveiled a sleek-looking concept truck in 2019.

Mack Electric LR garbage truck

Mack Electric LR garbage truck

Several ventures have also been focused toward building fuel-cell stacks into a modular form that can be used in a wide range of trucks. That includes a joint effort of Honda and Isuzu

announced last year, marking the first time Honda has given another company access to its long-running fuel-cell development program.

There are also efforts to develop zero-emission garbage trucks, albeit using battery-electric, rather than hydrogen fuel-cell, powertrains. Dutch truck manufacturer DAF completed its first electric garbage truck

last year, while Mack announced its own model in 2019.