ZF is participating in a heavy commercial vehicle fuel cell technology project, known as HyFleet, with Freudenberg, Flixbus and climate NGO, Atmosfair.

The objective of the HyFleet project is to design and test a purely electrically powered coach.

The research is scheduled to run for three years and aims to identify findings for design of fuel cells in coaches.

“ZF’s broad technology portfolio and knowledge of the electrified driveline as well as associated systems are already facilitating vehicle manufacturers’ transition to e-mobility,” said ZF board of management member responsible for Commercial Vehicle Technology and Control Systems, Wilhelm Rehm.

“In the future, the fuel cell will play an important role in e-mobility for heavy commercial vehicles due to its range and fast refuelling times.

“We have always pursued electrification with an open-minded approach to technology – the fuel cell has also played an important role as a drive solution for us from the very beginning.”

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For his part, Freudenberg Sealing Technologies CEO, Claus Möhlenkamp, added: “Freudenberg will contribute to the project its decades of fuel cell expertise at component and system level.

“We want to significantly develop both the durability and efficiency of the technology and thus set standards for total cost of ownership.”

The German supplier noted the feasibility study will make it easier in the future to design fuel cell drives for heavy commercial vehicles. Specifically, this involves respective dimensioning of the battery and fuel cell, the system’s cooling concept and load peaks to be considered when operating the drive system.

In this context, ZF is contributing its experience for the purely electric commercial vehicle drive – including power electronics and software-based control of all energy consumers. The consortium also benefits from the know-how of ZF Group in e-mobility series projects for commercial vehicles.

The German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has provided a non-binding letter of intent for funding the project.

The consortium is managed by Freudenberg Fuel Cell e-Power Systems, a subsidiary of Freudenberg Sealing Technologies; other partners are mobility provider, Flixbus and climate organisation, Atmosfair.

The HyFleet project focuses on a high practical benefit of the fuel cell drive. In addition to energy efficiency of the drive, this also includes driving characteristics and handling, for example in hydrogen refuelling.

In addition to the HyFleet project, ZF and Freudenberg are jointly investigating further applications for development of fuel cell solutions for mobility and industrial use.