Technology Choices for Zero Emissions

technology choices for zero emissions

Looking forward into the future, and being developed right now, there are a wide range of technology choices for zero emissions.

Current internal combustion (ICE) engines are getting close to 50 per cent thermal efficiency and they can run on hydrogenated (in the US, hydrotreated) vegetable oil (HVO), which reduces emissions from the trucks dramatically. Diesel engines can also be adapted to use LNG and liquefied bio-gas to reduce emissions.

Hydrogen can also be used to power ICE technology and Volvo reckons it can develop this without using spark plugs. Hydrogen can also be used for FCEV, in. a system which also uses battery packs, using the same same drivetrain as a BEV. 

All of the cells for batteries are put together in modules which are used to make up the battery packs. All of this energy storage system has to be managed by complex software. It needs to manage the temperature, managing the charging of the batteries in the optimal way. A large part of the overall engineering team are software engineers developing different algorithms to be able to manage all of the truck systems. 

technology choices for zero emissions

On the FCEV front, Volvo is in a joint venture with Daimler Trucks, Cellcentric, which is developing the core technology, but Volvo will pack this technology into its trucks using its own system. Volvo reckon the FCEV will have around a 1000km range and work predominantly in the heavier long range sector.

Trucks are already being tested in Sweden, but this is the start of a long process. Customer tests are more than two years away and Volvo expects to have trucks on the market sometime after 2025. The rest of the driveline will be the same as that developed for the BEV, as the fuel cell generates electricity and charges a battery to power the truck’s driveline.

Another vital component will be the e-axle, which was displayed by Volvo at the IAA in Hanover last year, but is still some way away from a production truck. The advantage of this is that by concentrating the electric motor, transmission and differential at the drive axle, it frees up more room on the chassis for batteries or hydrogen tanks. It also moves weight away from the front axle and enables a better weight distribution across the truck.

technology choices for zero emissions

The transmissions will be much simpler on a BEV and FCEV, because the electric motor produces full torque from zero rpm, meaning much fewer gears are needed.

“We are expecting a massive shift during the coming years for Volvo and I think it will happen segment by segment, customer by customer and market by market,” said said Volvo Global President and CEO, Roger Alm, at an event in Brisbane. “Many companies have set very ambitious targets to reach zero emissions.

“We see it’s happening with retail customers, global companies like Amazon, DHL and others that are very, very serious about decarbonising. We have approximately 1,000 customers that have bought electric trucks and brought them into their operations. The feedback that we receive from our customers is really, really positive. We have actually seen many customers who have said that they have bought their last diesel truck, and that is a major statement.”

The Volvo production system has been adapted so that any of the company’s production facilities around the world can build an electric truck, a diesel truck or a gas truck on the same line.

Volvo is producing batteries in partnership with Samsung, who provide the basic cells. A facility in Ghent in Belgium then assembles these into the packs which are fitted to the trucks. Alongside this, Volvo are developing a system to recycle old batteries to be used in other applications like back up storage. At the end of their life Volvo can disassemble them and use the materials elsewhere, the company will ‘mine’ the old batteries. 


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