UPS fuel cell-powered Class 6 delivery van
UPS fuel cell-powered Class 6 delivery van

The Constant Greening of UPS

By Bill Moore

Their trucks and uniforms might be brown, but with the debut of the first of two hydrogen fuel cell range-extended (FCRx) Class 6 delivery vans, UPS is continuing its quest for zero carbon emissions.

Starting, hopefully, in the third quarter of 2017, parcels being delivered to Governor Jerry Brown, Jr.s office in Sacramento will arrive by the world's first hydrogen fuel cell range-extender electric delivery van..

The product of a $3 million "and change" R&D development program funded by the US Energy Department and several California state agencies, including SCAQMD, the standard 1,000 cubic feet Class 6 brown van is the forerunner of some sixteen follow-on FCRx electric vans, the second of which is also a test "mule" being developed at Stony Brook University. The prototype currently on display at the ACT Expo in Long Beach, and where EV World's Bill Moore interviewed by phone Mike Britt, UPS Director of Maintenance and Engineering, was developed at the University of Texas Austin.

As Britt notes in this exclusive 20-minute dialogue, UPS's goal is to ultimately operate a fleet with zero carbon emissions, the the chassis on display in Long Beach is the next critical step towards that goal. Unlike the current 300 battery electric vans in its global fleet, this vehicle is designed to operate all day without the need to stop and recharge or refuel. With an estimated range of 125 miles, it should operate a full work day "going out heavy and returning heavy", meaning it will pickup as many parcels as it delivers.

UPS Fuel Cell Range-Extender Drive System

Powering the van is a 32kW Hydrogenics fuel cell stack that keeps the Lithium Balance battery pack charged during the day using 10 kg of compressed hydrogen. At night the hydrogen will be topped off and the 45kWh battery pack recharged. Britt told EV World that this is as near the ideal zero-carbon propulsion system as possible today, especially if UPS can arrange for the hydrogen to come from renewable sources like that produced by the waste water treatment facility in Fountain Valley, Ca.

While he acknowledges that research programs are expensive, UPS developed the van with the thought in mind that if produced "at scale." meaning 5-6,000 similar vans annually, the total cost of ownership would be close to that of their diesel-fueled models.

You can listen to the entire 20-minute interview using the embedded MP3 player below or by downloading the 5.66MB file to your personal computer for later playback on your favorite MP3 device.

Times Article Viewed: 24144
Originally published: 08 May 2017


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