Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) have deployed the first of a planned 15 hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) medium-duty delivery vans, as part of their collaborative effort to replace diesel-powered vehicles and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. SoCalGas’ support and funding of the project are aimed to help propel ongoing advancements toward the commercialization of zero-emission, medium-duty vehicles and potentially assist companies in decarbonizing their fleets. A leading courier service is driving these hydrogen FCEV vans to facilitate package deliveries in underserved communities within the Inland Empire.
The project team successfully retrofitted and converted diesel delivery vans to a hybrid electric drive, incorporating on-board hydrogen storage and a fuel cell range extender. Frequent stops made during deliveries allow the onboard hydrogen system to recharge the battery, extending the vehicle range and allowing the courier service to meet their route range requirements.
The pilot project aims to demonstrate the potential of hydrogen FCEV vans for delivery operations. It is being developed in partnership with Accelera by Cummins, Unique Electric Solutions (UES), and the University of Texas – Center for Electromechanics (CEM) and is backed by U.S. Department of Energy’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) , South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD), California Energy Commission (CEC), and California Air Resources Board (CARB). This project was supported by the “California Climate Investments” (CCI) program.
“This project is a successful private, public partnership that showcases green technology and environmental stewardship,” said Wayne Nastri, South Coast AQMD Executive Officer. “With every package delivered using these emission free vans, we are closer to reducing air pollution in our communities.”
“Collaborative efforts among companies and organizations are essential to help achieve California’s climate goals and this innovative project exemplifies such cooperation,” said Neil Navin, Chief Clean Fuels Officer at SoCalGas. “The integration of hydrogen storage, fuel cell technology, battery packs, and power electronics is designed to ensure sufficient vehicle power, maintain cargo capacity and weight limitations, all while upholding a zero-emission standard.”
“We couldn’t be more excited to see years of hard work and development come to fruition by putting these clean trucks into service. This achievement wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our sponsors and dedication of our partners. Through this type of technology demonstration and advancement we believe we will continue to drive the industry towards clean transportation solutions,” said Jason Hanlin, CTE’s Director of Technology Development.
The delivery vans benefit from easy access to a public hydrogen fueling station in Ontario, which serves as a refueling point for the retrofitted vans. These vans serve a high concentration of disadvantaged communities, and their conversion to the use of hydrogen FCEVs could help mitigate localized pollution concerns associated with package delivery. The project team will continue to monitor the results of emissions reductions during this pilot project, providing valuable insight for similar initiatives.
CTE’s broader efforts have assisted nearly 100 transit agencies that have either deployed or will deploy more than 700 zero-emission buses and has managed or participated in almost 40 major projects across the country, helping agencies prepare strategic plans to shift their full fleet of vehicles to zero-emission.
While CTE’s work has helped accelerate the shift toward zero-emissions transportations, SoCalGas is also helping to lead the charge. The company’s focus on sustainability was notably recognized last year when it received the Leading Private Fleet Award at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo. This honor acknowledges SoCalGas’ efforts towards executing its ASPIRE 2045 sustainability strategy, which includes working to replace 50% of its over-the-road fleet with clean fuel vehicles by 2025 and operate a zero-emission fleet by 2035. Currently, a third of SoCalGas’ fleet operates on clean fuels.
Integral to the utility’s sustainability strategy, SoCalGas continues to foster collaborations with other companies within its Research, Development, and Demonstration (RD&D) portfolio designed to forge new pathways for decarbonization and spur innovation towards achieving net-zero emissions.