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Volvo tests world’s first hydrogen-fuelled hauler

The HX04 in action (Volvo CE)
Swedish company Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) has begun tests on the world’s first articulated hauler to be powered by a hydrogen fuel-cell.

The company hopes its development of the HX04 will give insights into the advantages of hydrogen over batteries and conventional internal combustion engines.

Carolina Diez Ferrer, head of advanced engineering programmes at Volvo CE, said: “Being inventors of the world’s first articulated hauler more than 55 years ago, we are happy and proud to again drive change with this fuel-cell hauler concept.

“Although it is an early prototype, this innovation will give valuable insights into the opportunities of hydrogen in the energy transformation alongside battery-electric solutions. We believe that by exploring multiple technologies and working in partnership we can create the best path forward to decarbonize the construction industry.”

The HX04 is the outcome of a five-year research and development project, partly funded by the Swedish Innovation Agency, the Swedish Energy Agency, and Swedish Transport Administration. Other partners were the RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, which provided specialist advice on development and safety, and PowerCell Sweden.

The development of the six-wheel prototype was largely carried out at Volvo CE’s facility in Braås, Sweden, although fuel cell tests and software was carried out at the Technology Centre in Eskilstuna, Sweden.

One challenge that will have to be overcome is the development of fuel infrastructure for vehicles such as the HX04. Here, Volvo CE is partnering with energy company Shell, which installed a hydrogen refuelling station at the Volvo CE test track in Braås.

Oliver Bishop, Shell’s general manager for hydrogen mobility, said: “Providing the fuelling infrastructure for this innovative project gave Shell the opportunity to demonstrate our technical capabilities in hydrogen, and enabled us to support one of our key global collaboration partners in taking another step forward in their decarbonisation journey, which goes to the heart and intent of Shell’s Powering Progress strategy.”

At present, it takes seven-and-a-half minutes to fill the HX04’s fuel cell with 12kg of hydrogen, which gives it enough energy to operate for four hours.

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