The Anonymous Widower

Hauling With Hydrogen: DHL Adding Fuel-Cell Vans To Its Delivery Fleet

The title of this article is the same as that of this article on Forbes.

This is the first paragraph.

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but vehicles powered by the clean fuel are somewhat scarce. In the latest sign that that’s changing, DHL is adding hydrogen fuel-cell vans to its fleet to cut carbon emissions with faster refueling time and longer-range than battery-electric vehicles offer.

The whole article is well worth a read.


This initiative by DHL, like the development of hydrogen-powered double-decker buses for London and Liverpool, is another well-thought out project to move the world towards a zero-carbon and low pollution future.

All three projects are multi-vehicle projects, where fuelling can be done on a centralised basis.

Looking at the large cities of the UK, there must be several large fleets, that could be converted to hydrogen.

  • City buses
  • Royal Mail and other parcel and mail delivery vehicles
  • Taxis
  • Refuse trucks

I can see a range of solutions for providing zero-carbon and low-pollution transport, which vary dependent on the application and fleet size.

Specialised bicycle systems – Locally, I’ve seen bread deliveries, a nappy service and a plumber. There was also an item on the BBC about a hospital using a bicycle for local deliveries of samples, drugs and blood.

One-vehicle electric vehicle systems – Many small busineses, trademen and house-owners have a vehicle that they keep off the road in their premises or garage. A pathway needs to be developed, so that they can exchange their current vehicle for a battery-electric one, which also plays its part in storing surplus electricity. The technology is there, but it needs to be packaged, so people can afford to take that route.

Multi-vehicle electric vehicle systems – This is obvious for companies with lots of delivery vans, but this could be extended to blocks of flats and office developments, where all parking spaces have charging points and service charges could be set to encourage electric car use.

Multi-vehicle hydrogen systems – I’That’s where this article started and I think, this could expand, as the technology of both the vehicles and the hydrogen fuelling improve.

,There could be lots of niches, which a tailored-solution could solve.

The Cement Truck Example

I would love to know how many miles the average cement truck does in a day. But obviously the companies know and calculations would show the size of hydrogen tank needed for a couple of days work in a city like Leeds.

  • Range with a full load wouldn’t be more than perhaps fifteen miles.
  • The return trip would be empty and needs less power.
  • The depot would have a hydrogen fuelling system, Fuelling a hydrogen truck should be no more difficult than fuelling a diesel one.
  • Whilst in the depot, if power is needed to turn the drum and mix the cement, this could be provided by a direct electrical connection.
  • The truck could leave the depot with a full battery.
  • Hydrogen trucks might be used for local deliveries with perhaps diesel hybrid trucks for longer deliveries

I suspect that looking at the system as a whole entity could produce a very good system.

If say it cut carbon emissions and pollution by upwards of fifty percent, would it give the company a marketing advantage.

Perhaps, each building should be taxed for the amount of carbon dioxide and pollution its construction created?




May 30, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , ,


  1. You have a whole lot of excellent stuff there, Widower. Keep thinking.

    Comment by Alan Boyce | May 31, 2019 | Reply

    • Thanks for that!

      I believe we’re going through an energy revolution and very few politicians realise what is going on.

      New technologies are arriving and surprisingly, a lot of its deployment is being driven, by pension and other funds, that need safe homes for their money, so they can fulfil their obligations.

      Other than politicians, the public all over the world are sceptical and need reeducating, so they change their lifestyles.

      I shall be up North for a few days, looking at some developments.

      Comment by AnonW | May 31, 2019 | Reply

      • I don’t think it’s just the politicians; most of the public have little idea of the massive changes taking place atm. I’ve just been reading about the National Grid’s negative prices last weekend – effectively the Grid paying people to use electricity. This may be ‘extraordinary’ atm, but I agree with the article that this is likely to become the norm as renewables provide more and more of our power requirements.

        Comment by Peter Robins | May 31, 2019

      • This is the advantage of hydrogen. Create it using excess wind and it can be stored or even turned into green ammonia for fertiliser.. Or it can go into umpteen electric vehicle batteries. Increasingly electric vehicles and house batteries will be important to balance the Grid.

        Comment by AnonW | May 31, 2019

      • and another quote, from
        “As more and more renewables come onto the system, we’re seeing things progress at an astonishing rate.”
        Not some wide-eyed activist, but the director of the Electricity Supply Operator.

        Comment by Peter Robins | May 31, 2019

      • beg his pardon: the Electricity System Operator

        Comment by Peter Robins | May 31, 2019

  2. more on this at – just the latest development in DHL/Deutsche Post’s efforts See for Streetscooter’s model range. The new H2 Panel Van is a variant on the battery-based Work XL, based on that sturdy workhorse, the Ford Transit
    Hydrogen-powered refuse-collection lorries, and some adapted Renault Kangoo vans, have been in operation for some time now as part of

    Comment by Peter Robins | May 31, 2019 | Reply

    • Thanks! I’m just on the way to Doncaster, Leeds and Chester with a two-night stay in Manchester, so I can watch the football in peace in a pub!

      Comment by AnonW | May 31, 2019 | Reply

    • … and for more on hydrogen-powered dustcarts, see the ever-enthusiastic Robert Llewellyn riding in one of Aberdeen’s hydrogen/diesel hybrids

      Comment by Peter Robins | May 31, 2019 | Reply

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