Truck-focused hydrogen fuel plant is a first on East Coast

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Chalk one up for hydrogen.

The race to install infrastructure for alternative fuels continues with a major announcement made about hydrogen fuel production.

In what’s believed to be an industry first for the East Coast, North Carolina-based OneH2 announced Thursday the completion of the first stage of a fully dedicated hydrogen fuel plant designed to provide deliveries of ready to use bulk hydrogen gas to the industrial truck and heavy vehicle markets.

Primarily servicing today’s hydrogen powered forklift fleets, the stage one project based in Longview, N.C., will provide zero emission fuel to about 1,000 industrial trucks throughout the Carolinas, Tennessee and Georgia.

OneH2 expects that with completion of stages two and three, the facility will also service the burgeoning hydrogen powered semi-tractor market, particularly for trucks conducting linehaul runs between Charlotte, Atlanta and Nashville.

Alternative fuel proponents have been somewhat split on the future of powertrains, especially when it comes to larger vehicle classes. Proponents of all-electric trucks and vans continue to champion advances in battery technology and faster charge times while critics contend that hydrogen fuel cells offer the best options in terms of refueling and meeting the tough duty cycles required by commercial trucks and vans.

“Hydrogen is the right technology,” Dr. Mihai Dorobantu, director of Technology Planning and Government Affairs in Eaton’s Vehicle Group, said today at the 2019 Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) meeting in Atlanta, Ga.

While Dorobantu said there are benefits with electric vehicles, such as zero emissions and far fewer moving parts resulting in reduced maintenance, the technology still hasn’t advanced enough to handle demanding Class 8 loads.

“You need a lot of electrical engineers that this industry doesn’t really have,” Dorobantu said.