A Ford research project is to evaluate the potential use of hydrogen as an onboard energy source for the company’s E-Transit. The OEM will investigate whether hydrogen fuel cell technology can deliver more zero-emission range for customers carrying out longer journeys with heavier payloads or ancillary equipment, or for those with limited charging opportunities.
A consortium – partly funded by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) – of six automotive technology companies and fleet operator partners will be responsible for figuring out the hydrogen refueling infrastructure required to conduct the pilot. Ford’s commercial vehicle and services division, Ford Pro, will use the pilot to increase its conversion expertise with support from the OEM’s engineers and E-Transit specialists.
“Ford believes that the primary application of fuel cells could be in its largest, heaviest CVs to ensure they are emission free while satisfying the high daily energy requirements our customers demand,” said Tim Slatter, chair of Ford Motor Company in the UK. “Ford has an unmatched history in the commercial vehicle sector with the indomitable Transit, and we are excited to be exploring new ways to make clean deliveries an option for even our hardest-working vans on the road.”
The hydrogen fuel cell project will validate the E-Transit’s business case by combining the OEM’s expertise with expertise from fuel cell powertrain leaders and fleet operators including Ocado Retail. Other partners in the project include bp, which will capture hydrogen use and infrastructure requirements; Cambustion, a fuel cell system tester; Viritech, a designer of hydrogen storage systems; and Cygnet Texkimp, which will provide the pressure vessels’ carbon-fiber tooling.
A test fleet of eight fuel cell Ford E-Transits will operate for six-month periods during the three-year project, which will continue until 2025. Gathered data will provide insights into ownership costs, the increased range and operating hours. Each prototype E-Transit will be equipped with a high-power fuel cell stack in addition to hydrogen storage that has been optimized in terms of safety, capacity, cost and weight.
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