Cummins, a name virtually synonymous with diesel engines, is joining the hydrogen train. And for good reason: There is mounting demand for hydrogen powertrains for heavy trucks and heavy-duty pickups, as well as growing hostility from regulators toward diesel.
Cummins is producing a hydrogen version of its popular B6.7 engine. That engine is the base for the 6.7L Cummins inline 6-cyl. turbodiesel used today in the Ram pickup from Stellantis. The engine is found in the 2500/3500/4500/5500 Heavy Duty lineup of pickups.
When Stellantis introduced the all-new Ram at CES 2023 last month, the company said a future heavy-duty derivative would have a hydrogen powertrain.
The whole diesel industry is bracing for a phase-out over the next 15-plus years, but in some cases sooner. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) in 2008 stated that any diesel vehicles weighing over 14,000 lbs. (6,350 kg) and built before 2010 would be banned from operating on California roads as of Jan. 1, 2023. And those trucks are coming off the road now.
CARB also has mandated that all new trucks operating around busy railways and ports be zero-emission vehicles by 2024; phasing out all diesel trucks from those areas by 2035; and eventually taking every diesel truck and bus fleet off California roads by 2045, where feasible.
Cummins has demonstrated how the new B6.7H for its medium-duty and heavy-duty engine offerings can replace diesel. In a video, for example, Cummins demonstrates how a medium-duty delivery truck can operate on zero-carbon-emissions hydrogen fuel in an internal-combustion engine without giving up any performance or cargo-carrying attributes.
Cummins’ H2-ICE engine features a 700-bar (10,000-psi) pressure high-capacity hydrogen storage system, which gives the vehicle a range of about 300 miles (483 km). The B6-7H 6.7L hydrogen motor produces 290 hp and 886 lb.-ft. (1,201 Nm) of torque in the medium-duty truck package.
“There is an undeniable desire to make more of hydrogen in the energy economy,” says Sumanth Addageria, vice president of Albuquerque, NM-based BayoTech, which supplies hydrogen trailers to distribution points such as TrueZero hydrogen stations in California.
BayoTech’s position is backed up by a recent report by consulting firm Deloitte that projects hydrogen “to be the next energy (sector) to scale.”
Cummins also has just shown its new fuel-agnostic 15.0L engine platform with hydrogen, biogas and advanced diesel engines at Con Expo. This engine offers OEMs the opportunity to accelerate the decarbonization of heavy-duty off-highway vehicles.
The new platform is designed for the next level of emission reduction standards, and has a significant increase in power density with a more compact installation envelope. This lets OEMs increase machine capability and productivity with no impact on running costs.
The 15.0L hydrogen engine will be available with ratings from 400- 530 hp.
“In every past hydrogen hype cycle, what was really meant by ‘hydrogen economy’ was personal cars with a fuel cell,” says Jim Nebergall, general manager of Cummins’ hydrogen engine business. “On the contrary, today commercial transportation is one of the key opportunities for the hydrogen economy to prosper.”
As ever with hydrogen powertrains, the issue is refueling. But the hydrogen infrastructure is getting a big boost courtesy of the U.S. government. The Inflation Reduction Act signed into law in August allocated $8 billion to build out six to 10 hydrogen hubs.
Multiple states have prepared Request-for-Proposal submissions for hubs that would be built to generate hydrogen on a large scale in geographic regions where they would likely get the most use and traffic and be able to distribute compressed hydrogen to high-volume users who want to get off diesel fuel and onto renewable-energy-driven hydrogen.
Cummins also is playing in the hydrogen production space. The company just announced it is supplying a 35-mW proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer to Linde for its new hydrogen production plant near Niagara Falls, NY, Linde’s largest such plant in the U.S.
“This project is not only a milestone for Cummins, but also for the energy transition in the U.S.,” says Amy Davis, vice president and president (vice president and president?) of New Power at Cummins. “Adding the 35mW of this Linde plant to our electrolyzer project footprint highlights our commitment to scaling the green hydrogen economy and our ability to support large-scale renewable hydrogen production with market-leading innovation."