Eaton’s Vehicle Group has partnered with Ballard Fuel Cell Systems and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory to develop heavy-duty truck fuel cell technology.
The partnership is the result of a DOE grant Eaton received to develop “highly efficient hydrogen fuel cells capable of powering heavy-duty machinery,” Eaton officials said in a press release.
Eaton will design and test a subscale, proof-of-concept system prototype utilizing its Twin Vortices Series technology that delivers a significant reduction in air system power consumption and fuel cell efficiency for heavy-duty truck applications.
“Our TVS supercharger technology provides fuel cell manufacturers with a precise amount of controlled air to increase power and efficiency,” said Karl Sievertsen, vice president and chief technology officer for Eaton’s Vehicle Group, in a press release. “The efficiency of competitive fuel cells is lower because most hydrogen fuel cells use simple fans for air flow, which produces less pressure and is not controllable.”
Eaton’s TVS technology is ideal for harsh environments, as it can tolerate water, has operating maps with broad efficiency, and provides accurate air flow control in proportion to speed, Eaton officials said. These properties enable a water applicator to replace the humidifier to achieve higher operating pressure ratios and isentropic efficiencies.
“The innovation will be demonstrated in a laboratory setting and will become a springboard for U.S. advanced manufacturing capabilities and technology leadership,” Sievertsen said.
Eaton will leverage its Corporate Research Labs in Golden, Colorado, and Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence in Southfield, Michigan, to produce the technology, using cutting-edge power electronics and advanced 3D-printing, company officials said.