Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) has opened the Volvo Group’s first dedicated fuel cell test lab. The aim is to develop hydrogen solutions for heavy construction equipment and other applications. The Volvo Group is not Volvo Cars, but the commercial vehicle group with trucks, buses, construction machinery and a marine division.
The dedicated lab, located at the Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) Technical Center in Eskilstuna, Sweden, represents a big step forward in the company’s commitment to hydrogen. The lab is also the first facility in Volvo Group to be testing complete fuel cell units, and will as such be a strong contributor to the company’s dedication to fuel cell technology.
Toni Hagelberg, Head of Sustainable Power at Volvo CE, says: “Fuel cell technology is a key enabler of sustainable solutions for heavier construction machines, and this investment provides us with another vital tool in our work to reach Science-Based Targets. The lab will also serve Volvo Group globally, as it’s the first to offer this kind of advanced testing. It’s a really exciting step to accelerate the development of fuel cell solutions towards our united vision for a carbon neutral society.”
Volvo CE sees hydrogen fuel cell technology as playing a key role within its overall electromobility ambitions, together with battery electric solutions and more sustainable internal combustion engine offerings – with all three streams working in alignment on the journey towards a carbon neutral society. While battery electric solutions are ideal for urban construction and other use cases, the size of the batteries is simply too impractical for larger machines and heavy construction equipment, which is where hydrogen comes in as a promising alternative.
“Hydrogen can be produced in many different ways and it’s important to have a life-cycle approach across the entire value chain”, says Hagelberg. “Not only will the research and development carried out at the test lab be dedicated to producing fossil-free construction solutions, we will also look at how the hydrogen itself has been produced, and strive for so called “green” hydrogen produced from renewable energy.”
The fuel cells themselves, which Volvo CE wants to integrate into construction machines in the lab on a test basis, will come from Cellcentric. The Volvo Group founded the joint venture together with Daimler Trucks. The partners want to cooperate on the fuel cell, but the vehicles and their drives will continue to be developed separately.