A collaboration between Dutch fuel cell system developer zepp.solutions and special vehicle tractor manufacturer Terberg Benschop resulted in the first concept tractor of the hydrogen-powered YT203-H2. Testing of the fuel cell terminal tractor started this month in the port of Rotterdam, where the vehicle is deployed in daily operations to collect a wide range of data.
The hydrogen-powered proof of concept is based on the fully electric YT203-EV, which recently entered series production. By building the vehicle on a proven platform, the same ergonomics and maintenance workflow can be guaranteed. “Our ultimate goal is to offer excellent performance for heavy-duty applications combined with favorable TCO”, says Rob van Hove, Managing Director Terberg Benschop.
The vehicle is the result of a joint development process between Terberg and zepp.solutions. While Terberg is responsible for the vehicle, zepp.solutions provided a custom hydrogen fuel cell system and storage, to fit the available space while maximizing hydrogen capacity and fuel cell performance. “With our roots and experience in pioneering hydrogen in motorsport, we are now able to offer highly compact and performance-optimized fuel cell solutions that put our clients ahead of the competition. By taking on the task of integration and offering an all in one package we enable vehicle manufacturers like Terberg and their clients to reap the benefits that hydrogen offers” says Kevin Schreiber, project lead and co-founder of zepp.solutions. “By collaborating with us, even an OEM without in-house hydrogen expertise can bring an FCEV to the market. Having our engineering team to provide the hydrogen knowledge, experience and technology needed allows their team to focus on the application-specific side of the product, saving both time and money in the process”
Like diesel, but better
The YT203-H2 is currently deployed in the United Waalhaven Terminals in Rotterdam, where it operates alongside conventional diesel tractors. The vehicle is equipped with four 350 bar hydrogen fuel tanks containing a total of 14.4 kg of hydrogen, enough for a full day of operations in the tough working conditions the harbor offers.
The hydrogen tractor is designed to provide the same or more tractive power than diesel-powered terminal tractors, but with zero emissions and without the noise of combustion engines. The proof of concept marks a big step from design studies to real-life validation. The project is being supported by the DKTI-Transport subsidy scheme of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.
With diesel still offering the most attractive performance/cost-ratio, most terminal tractors are currently diesel-powered. Because of this, the diesel-like workflow hydrogen fuel cell vehicles offer is an important benefit. This way, hydrogen-powered tractors can be seamlessly integrated into an existing fleet.
Momentum for zepp.solutions
The 3-year old scale-up zepp.solutions is gaining momentum. Just last week, zepp.solutions announced their collaboration with fuel cell stack producer ElringKlinger. Another milestone on the agenda is the release of their first flexible fuel cell module platform at the end of this year. This platform will be easily customizable to fit client-specific needs regarding spaceclaim, performance and commercial aspects.