Over in the US, you know when something is going to happen, it’s when Kenworth get involved, and now Kenworth goes electric, showing off its new Zero Emission Cargo Transport (ZECT). It’s a T680 powered by a hydrogen fuel cell hybrid power system using a 100 kWh lithium ion battery. This power train means the truck has 560 hp available to it.
With a maximum speed of 100 km/h and a range of 240 km, the truck is capable of some local semi distribution, but isn’t ready for the interstate open highway. As this is the first phase of public development for this truck we can expect improved range will be one of the first changes to come through, as battery technology improves, as it has improved considerably in the last ten years.
The fuel cell uses compressed hydrogen from the fuel storage on board to generate electricity. This is either used to power the electric motor directly, or recharge the battery for later use. A fuel cell uses hydrogen and air to generate power, with only water vapour emitted form the exhaust pipe.
The low noise levels involved when this truck powers up can be seen and not heard on this clip:
After a trial period where the truck has been working in the Seattle area, close to Kenworth HQ, the truck is heading South to work out of the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. These two ports have been working hard to reduce on-road emission in their area for some time. In the past, low emission trucks have been subsidised, by the ports, to enable operators hauling in and out of the port to invest in low emission equipment.
Electric trucks using a catenary system to get power for electric trucks from overhead cable are currently being trialled in the area. There are also a selection of natural gas engined trucks working in the port, as part of the initiative to drive down emissions in an area where a the two large ports sit alongside major urban residential areas.