What is the fuel of the future?

Developments within transport – for both personal and business use – are evolving rapidly. Hybrid cars and electric cars are gaining popularity in the push to reduce CO2 emissions and take better care of the environment. Research and technology are constantly being refined, and we’re getting better and better at finding more environmentally friendly ways to transport ourselves and our goods.

In a company like H. Daugaard, which is built on transport and logistics, we are deeply concerned with, and interested in, developments taking place in transport.

For this article, we’ve met with our Fleet Manager, Palle Albertsen, to ask him about his views on the future of fuelling. If anyone’s a true nerd in this area, it’s Palle.

Want to look into the crystal ball with us? Then keep on reading.

1. Shouldn’t all vehicles just run on electricity?

Electricity is a great fuel – especially if it’s green power – and, especially for individuals driving regular routes to and from work every day, this is a great solution. But when it comes to a company like ours, which requires trucks to drive very long distances, things become more complicated.

The range is simply too poor and, if you ask me, I don’t think this solution will become technologically advanced enough for it to make sense for our longer drives. Of course, for our shorter drives, it’s a different story, and we’re already looking into solutions that can be implemented here.

If the destination can be reached on one charge, it’s obviously a good solution, but as soon as we need to recharge, it becomes a problem because it takes up too much time. It’s not necessarily the case that it can be combined with the rest breaks our drivers have to take.

More power – and especially green power – is interesting in relation to much more than fuel. Some of our trucks currently have solar cells installed on the roof that generate power so the truck doesn’t have to idle, but also so the driver can use appliances such as the fridge, lights, or coffee machine while living in the vehicle.

2. What do you see as the best alternative to current fuels?

In my opinion, diesel is the best option we have right now if you consider the price, range, and availability – but that’s not factoring in fuelling from an environmentally friendly perspective. If we look just a little further into the future, I feel certain that hydrogen will become the next major fuel in the logistics industry.

We’re not quite there yet because the price remains too high for it to be viable, but it’s my firm belief that hydrogen is the best solution for more environmentally friendly transport in the future.

3. Can you talk about how hydrogen cars work and what the benefits are?

Hydrogen cars are equipped with a fuel cell. When you refuel the car with hydrogen, it mixes with oxygen in the fuel cell and this chemical reaction generates electricity and water. The electricity is used to charge a battery, which is used to power the engine, and the water is released onto the road in the form of vapour.

One of the major pros of hydrogen cars is that they can be refuelled quickly. Hydrogen is also an extremely environmentally friendly alternative to the current diesel fuel. Hydrogen can be produced in a completely CO2-free way by using electrolysis. You use clean water and electricity, and the electrolyser splits water into hydrogen and oxygen using electricity from, for instance, solar or wind power.

4. Why aren’t we already seeing hydrogen trucks on the roads?

The boring answer is that it’s all a matter of economics. This is always the case when something new is coming – just look at electric cars. In the beginning, they were terribly expensive, but now they’ve become commonplace.

As with electric cars, it’s also a matter of making refuelling options available around the country so people don’t get stranded in the middle of the highway. And for there to be more hydrogen refuelling stations, there needs to be a demand. In other words, more hydrogen cars. So, it’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation. Which comes first?

I feel certain that when we look towards 2023, there will definitely be hydrogen trucks on the roads. This is already the case in Switzerland, which is significantly further ahead. In Denmark, there are certain financial limitations but, if you ask me, it’s only a matter of time.

No one can know for sure what the future holds, but we’re doing everything we can at H. Daugaard to keep up with developments and follow new solutions that can help to ensure more sustainable transport.


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