Bosch & Nikola Are Prepared With Hydrogen

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When Nikola confirmed as much as the 2022 ACT Expo in Lengthy Seaside final yr, the message was easy: we’re nonetheless right here. After all of the trials and tribulations the fledgling truck model had confronted on its highway to actuality, the truth that it had survived Trevor Milton’s scattered, controversial “management” was in all probability essentially the most underrated clear tech accomplishment of the previous couple of years. However this yr, the message was completely different. Nikola isn’t simply right here — Nikola is the true deal.

Certainly, the corporate delivered 258 of its battery-electric Tre semi vehicles to prospects in calendar yr 2022, and is on monitor to ship a number of hundred extra in 2023, thanks in no small half to the huge authorities subsidies at each the federal and state ranges that assist to convey buy worth for this large battery vehicles nearer to diesel parity.

The vibe on the Nikola sales space in 2023 was all smiles, and the model’s mannequin lineup had grown to incorporate not only a hydrogen gas cell truck (extra on that in a minute), however HYLA, a hydrogen fueling resolution meant to shortly and inexpensively deploy a hydrogen filling station on nearly any flat piece of pavement you’ll find.

“There may be some hydrogen infrastructure in California already,” says Carey Mendez, president of Nikola Vitality and head of the HYLA program. “This resolution is for that firm in Alabama or Oklahoma that desires to maneuver it’s fleet to hydrogen, however there’s no hydrogen obtainable. With HYLA, we will deploy a filling station in just a few days – not months or years – they usually’re able to go.”

HYLA is the identify given to Nikola’s fueling model — a mashup of “HYdrogen and NikoLA” — and it just lately closed a cope with Voltera to construct out 50 such H stations at a price of between $750 million and $1 billion. “The cash makes it actual,” he mentioned, mentioning that the stations, and the HFCEV model of Nikola’s semi, could be in manufacturing by Q3 of this yr, with deliveries to prospects starting in Q1 of ’24.

Throughout the lane in ACT’s sprawling Anaheim Conference Heart corridor was Nikola’s engineering companion, Bosch, whose hydrogen gas cell know-how is powering the HFCEV model of the truck. A couple of of its engineers, together with Matt Thorington, gave me the “clarify like I’m 5” model of how a gas cell works, and I marveled at how acquainted various the parts had been to my Mercedes sensibilities.

“That throttle physique actuator appears precisely like those within the M156 V8,” I mentioned.

“The turbine housings right here, that compress the air,” Matt factors to the sand-casted snails, “these ought to look acquainted, too.”

They do. Actually, all through Bosch’s show I noticed various parts that, in the event that they weren’t instantly pulled off one in all Bosch’s in depth components bins, actually made heavy use of the corporate’s present SolidWorks half libraries.

“These are starter motors,” I mentioned, mentioning the massive electrical servos on the brand new Bosch electrical steering show mannequin. “That’s a modified gas injector. That ECU appears just like the M176.”

Thorington was getting bored with taking part in “guess the half quantity.” I felt instantly dangerous about that, as a result of I wasn’t attempting to play smartass. “It exhibits the sort of lead that Bosch has over a number of the smaller firms attempting to get into the hydrogen sport,” I supplied as an olive department.

“Yeah,” he mentioned, mulling it over. “Yeah! It’s an enormous benefit. We don’t have to begin engineering all this from sq. one. Now we have the experience on all the electrical controls and controllers, a variety of the bodily {hardware}, and it’s the identical primary concept. You’re transferring air and fluids below excessive strain.”

The largest distinction being that hydrogen is run at one thing ridiculous like 10,000 psi, versus gasoline that possibly runs at just a few hundred (if even that).

Thorington strikes us alongside, speaking concerning the dependence the hydrogen gas cell market has on platinum, but in addition explaining that every iteration of gas cell appears to get extra energy out of much less platinum. “Our subsequent Gen gas cell can have 150% higher energy density,” he says, “in precisely the identical footprint as what you see right here. And that might be an choice on that,” he factors on the Nikola once more.

We stored chatting, discussing reliability targets — 20,000 hours of operation earlier than the system begins to degrade, the right way to give it a second life and, finally, the right way to recycle each the gas cell and batteries.

No matter you’re feeling about hydrogen — let’s face it, hydrogen is right here to save lots of the oil and fuel trade, not the planet — you’ll be able to’t deny that it does scale back tailpipe emissions in comparison with diesel. And it looks like Bosch (and, by extension, Nikola) has a headstart.

 


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