Freightliner Cascadia truck with Symbio hydrogen fuel cell.

With a 70kg hydrogen tank onboard, Symbio's hydrogen fuel cell Freightliner Cascadia is capable of running over 450 miles per fueling event.

Photo: Symbio

Two years after announcing its H2 Central Valley Express project, hydrogen fuel cell developer Symbio has unveiled a hydrogen-fueled, regional-haul Class 8 truck.

The vehicle’s propulsion system was developed and integrated by Symbio in California. The truck is outfitted with next-generation EV-specific tires that offer improved fuel economy and reduced wear from Michelin.

Symbio’s 400 kW heavy duty fuel cell stack enables a significant engine weight reduction without compromise on performance, according to Rob Del Core, general manager, Symbio North America.

The H2 Central Valley Express Project

Symbio’s H2 Central Valley Express project aims to develop and demonstrate a hydrogen fuel cell truck that matches the performance of a 15-liter diesel truck, the company said. The ultimate goal is to provide a zero-emission solution for demanding regional-haul trucking operations.

Accordingly, Symbio has designed, developed, and integrated a heavy-duty long-haul fuel cell powertrain into a Freightliner Cascadia Class 8 tractor.

The Cascadia’s diesel engine has been replaced with Symbio’s 400 kW StackPack fuel cell system. This technology consists of four packaged sub-systems of Symbio’s proprietary stack technology.

Symbio said the system has logged more than 5 million test miles.

The heavy-duty 400kW power system’s control strategy is optimized to deliver energy balance and power to meet the functional requirements of the diesel truck. With a 70kg hydrogen tank onboard, the fuel cell truck is capable of traveling more than 450 miles per fueling event.

According to Symbio, hydrogen is perfectly suited to decarbonize heavy-duty mobility, bringing advantages including long range, higher payload, fast refueling and a reduced total cost of ownership. It is particularly attractive for highly utilized commercial vehicles which need a longer driving range and faster refueling time to maximize uptime.

Michelin Low-Rolling Resistance Tires 

Michelin (a co-shareholder of Symbio) is providing next-generation low-rolling resistance tires for the truck. The tire supplier said these tires combine safety, longevity and improved fuel efficiency.

The aim of this demonstration is to test the low-rolling resistance tires on a zero-emission truck, Michelin said. The tires are designed to handle higher torque loads under acceleration, which are different from those of internal combustion engine trucks.

It is expected that the data collected will help determine the improvements needed to develop a tire applicable for the needs of hydrogen trucks.

“Hydrogen plays a key role in Michelin’s all-sustainable approach and Symbio brings us with this announcement one step closer to becoming a world leader in hydrogen systems for mobility,” said Alexis Garcin, president and CEO, Michelin North America.

“Equipped with Michelin low rolling resistance tires and with the Symbio Hydrogen fuel cells, this breakthrough will accelerate the transition to a greener long haul transportation with extended range and fast charging time.”

A Year-Long Test Program for the Fuel-Cell-Electric Truck

Expected to hit the road by the end of 2024, the truck will run for 12 months on a challenging 400-mile (650 km) route between the Inland Empire and Northern San Joaquin Valley.

The demonstration route consists of four distinct operating sections, running from Los Angeles, through Grapevine climb, with a 235-mile run through California’s Central Valley.

The truck will be storing 66.8kg of 700-bar hydrogen onboard with two intra-route fueling events in Central Valley.

Project partners include GTI Energy, who leads the grant administration and program management and provides technical insight, and performs data collection and analysis.

Other partners include Total Transportation Services (TTSI), the fleet operator that will demonstrate the truck in revenue service, and Frontier Energy, which will conduct community outreach. Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) and Utilization Technology Development, a global collaboration of gas utilities, provide funding support.

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