Volvo invests in fuel-cell technology

Volvo is starting a joint-venture company for the development of power units based on fuel-cell technology that could reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.

The U.S. Department of Energy says that if trucks were equipped with a power unit driven by fuel cells, the carbon dioxide emissions from a single truck could be reduced by an estimated 20 to 30 tons per year - and as a result, trucks would not have to run at idle to have an electrical supply when they are parked.

The new company -- Powercell, owned jointly by Volvo Technology (VTEC) and Statoil -- would produce a power unit that features a newly patented technology and is compact that it can be installed in standard trucks. The fuel cell is powered by hydrogen gas that is produced from the diesel onboard.

According to the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA), there are about 500,000 heavy trucks in North America in which the driver lives onboard. If the emissions from these trucks could be reduced by 30 tons per truck per year, that would represent a reduction of 15 million tons - more than 25% of the total annual emissions for all of Sweden.

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