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Hydro fuel-cell truck built by RMIT

An Australian jolly green giant

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A group of researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne has unveiled what they say is the country’s first truck to be powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Since road transport – including the outback monsters that terrified participants and followers alike in the recent solar challenge race – accounts for an estimated 20 percent of the country’s vehicular greenhouse emissions, new fuel technologies are a key research direction.

However, unlike the road trains and B-doubles that occupy Australian roads, the RMIT kit is, at the moment, just a scale model.

The replica of a Scania Highline truck is a remote-control vehicle designed to simulate the performance of a long-haul diesel truck.

According to Professor Aleksander Subic, head of RMIT’s School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, work on fuel cell-powered trucks could help the road transport sector offset rising costs associated with the country’s new carbon tax (to be implemented next year).

Demand from the developing world, particularly China and India, is also pushing the price of diesel skywards.

The small-scale prototype is being demonstrated at RMIT today (Friday, November 11). Associate Professor John Andrews says the simulator is being tested with pre-defined loads to model the performance of a full-scale vehicle.

Associated research includes the use of solar electrolysis for hydrogen production, and solid state hydrogen storage, according to Professor Subic. ®

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