Gemini Motor Transport

Gemini, partners to develop hydrogen-powered long-haul trucks

Dec. 25, 2023
Joint agreement calls for Gemini, Ballard, and Chart to collaborate on an autonomous Class 8 fuel cell vehicle powered by liquid hydrogen that boasts a 1,000-mile range

Gemini Motor Company, Chart Industries, and Ballard Power Systems are collaborating on the development of a zero-emission fuel-cell Class 8 autonomous vehicle the companies say will be able to cover 1,000 miles in one fueling, “dramatically” reducing operating costs for the clean, long-haul transportation industry.

“Both Ballard and Chart are the industry leaders in their sectors, and we are confident our integrated solution will be a significant step forward for the industry,” Gemini CEO Alex Rafiee said in a news release.

The range breakthrough is possible due to the high energy density of liquified hydrogen and the ability to store it on board Gemini’s specially designed trucks, the collaborators maintained. Liquid hydrogen has higher energy density than its gaseous form typically compressed at 350 and 700. Cryogenic tanks that store liquid hydrogen can operate at atmospheric pressure, which makes them inherently safer for transport and more efficient in achieving longer driving ranges while maintaining an optimal gross vehicle weight.

Streamlined fueling, operation

The benefits of fueling liquid hydrogen from a refueling station to a liquid hydrogen on-board tank include removing prohibitive cost burdens and allowing ultra-fast refueling times on parity with diesel. On-board storage tanks streamline the dispensing process by eliminating the need for compression and, as a result, remove prohibitive capital and operational costs associated with compressors.

In addition to the significant reduction in carbon emissions from the use of liquid hydrogen and the unique design, Gemini plans to, over time, introduce an autonomous model of the same vehicle with increased space for additional fuel and additional efficiency from AI-directed operations that will extend the range up to 1,400 miles.

Along with Gemini’s recent agreement with a green hydrogen provider for low-cost liquid hydrogen, the development of this platform is expected to move toward a “low-cost, efficient goods-movement future.” Gemini plans to provide customers with a “transportation-as-a-service” model, including a plan for first rollout of test vehicles and demonstration fleets in 2023. After successful trials, the company intends to work on the launch of Gemini’s commercial service by 2025.

Chart manufactures highly engineered equipment servicing multiple applications in the energy and industrial gas markets. Ballard delivers fuel-cell power for a sustainable future. Its zero-emission PEM fuel cells enable mobility electrification, including buses, commercial trucks, trains, marine vessels, and stationary power generation.

Collaborative development

In the first phase of the collaboration, Gemini plans to integrate Chart’s liquid fuel on-board storage systems and Ballard’s advanced FCmove fuel cell in a Class 8 vehicle to validate a multi-component integration system. Gemini intends to demonstrate a vehicle with an unprecedented zero-emission range suited for long-haul logistics in countries such as the U.S., Canada, and Australia. At commercial scale, Gemini seeks to operate “thousands” of such vehicles in a hub-to-hub model across multiple cities and provide transportation-as-a-service business to shippers and carriers.

Ballard fuel cells currently power approximately 3,500 buses and trucks, providing zero-emission mobility solutions in nearly a dozen countries around the world with more than 100 million combined zero-emission kilometers driven, the company said.

“We are excited about this agreement, as it represents extensive consideration and collaboration regarding partners,” Rafiee said. “To accelerate decarbonization of the transportation sector, driving range is key. With longer ranges, the number of fuel stations needed drops exponentially while utilization of every unit rises, hence accelerating the adoption of zero-emission transport. We achieve this long driving range with Ballard’s powerful fuel cells combined with the unique liquid hydrogen tank storage from Chart.”

Ballard’s mission is to deliver fuel-cell expertise globally. “We consider agreements like the one with Chart and Gemini critical to advancing clean and innovative transportation,” confirmed Marc Niefer, Ballard general manager of the trucks business unit and vice president of customer care. “Both Gemini and Chart align with Ballard’s company values and have the right mix of talent, innovation, and know-how to make great strides in this space.”

Added Chart CEO Jill Evanko: “At Chart, we’re proud to be at the forefront of the clean-energy transition, and we’re excited to team up with two industry leaders, Ballard and Gemini, to accelerate decarbonization in the long-haul trucking space.”

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BT staff