By Nick Carey
(Reuters) - Hydrogen fuel cell maker Loop Energy said on Sunday that its latest cell system can deliver better fuel economy than a diesel engine at current price levels.
The Burnaby, British Columbia-based company said that - based on a pan-European diesel cost of $1.91 per litre on Sept. 5 and $10 per kg of hydrogen - a truck could travel just over 111 miles (179 km) on $100 worth of fuel using its new S1200 hydrogen fuel cell system versus a little over 109 miles for an equivalent diesel truck.
As the auto industry makes the shift to zero-emission electric vehicles (EVs), big freight truck makers like Daimler Truck and Volvo are investing heavily in hydrogen fuel cells to haul freight long distances because batteries weigh too much to make electric trucks viable.
Hydrogen fuel cells run hydrogen through a catalyst that produces energy and heat to power a small battery that drives the truck - the only emission from these cells is water.
Hydrogen fuel cells have faced two challenges for broad adoption: they have so far been less efficient than diesel and fuelling infrastructure in Europe is virtually non-existent.
Nyland said the new cell system essentially addresses the first of those challenges.
"This brings the future forward," Loop Energy Chief Executive Ben Nyland told Reuters. "This product delivers the economics that are needed for adoption today."
Nyland said that Loop Energy aims to provide the fuel cell system to startup truck makers and as part of hydrogen powertrains provided to big truck makers by major suppliers.
The company's biggest shareholder is U.S. engine maker Cummins, which holds a more than 20% stake in Loop Energy.
(Reporting By Nick Carey; editing by Jonathan Oatis)