Nikola and Daimler Truck inaugurate new hydrogen stations

Nikola and Daimler Truck have inaugurated new hydrogen refueling stations in the US and Europe. While Nikola can start to move past its mobile fueling units, Daimler Truck is aiming to change the game with cheaper and more efficient subcooled liquid hydrogen stations.

Nikola, the American zero-emission truck manufacturer, has opened its first HYLA hydrogen refueling station in Southern California, with eight more on the way by the end of Q2 2024. The first can refuel up to 40 Nikola FCEV trucks, coincidentally similar to the number of hydrogen trucks the company delivered last year.

Nikola’s first HYLA hydrogen refueling station has opened in California, with eight more on the way before the summer /Nikola Corporation

This means Nikola/HYLA can finally stop using its mobile refueling units on semi-truck trailers in favor of a more permanent solution to supply its customers with hydrogen. In total, Nikola wants to establish “up to” 60 hydrogen refueling solutions in the coming years, including franchised locations and partnerships with existing truck stops.

Subcooled liquid hydrogen instead of high-pressure gas

Meanwhile, Daimler Truck is working on its own infrastructure in Europe. The manufacturer of Mercedes trucks has opened its first subcooled liquid hydrogen (sLH2) station in Wörth am Rhein, Germany, in collaboration with Linde Engineering.

Keeping the hydrogen at super-low temperatures of minus 253 degrees Celsius means less pressure is needed to maintain the hydrogen’s density high enough to use as fuel. Hydrogen stations typically use pressurized hydrogen gas (H2) at around 700 bar.

Daimler Truck will start customer trials with its Mercedes-Benz GenH2 hydrogen truck in the second half of 2024 /Daimler Truck

New standard for hydrogen stations?

This subcooling process means fewer safety precautions are needed to avoid explosions, making these stations cheaper and giving them a smaller footprint. Daimler Truck and Linde Engineering want to establish sLH2 as a common standard for hydrogen truck refueling and have made the technology openly available via an ISO standard.

Refueling 80 kg of liquid nitrogen takes around 10 to 15 minutes, which is not much longer than refueling a diesel truck, while Daimler Truck claims a range of over 1,000 km with its upcoming Mercedes GenH2 Truck. A customer-trial fleet of this truck will run from mid-2024, with a production version coming in the second half of the decade.

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