Electric trucks: what battery sizes?

This data-file models the possible battery sizes in a fully electric semi-truck. Lithium ion batteries up to 15 tons are considered, which could deliver 2,500 miles of range, comparable to a diesel truck.

However, large batteries above c8-tons in size detracts around 10% from the fuel economy of electric trucks, and may cause trucks to exceed regulatory weight limits, lowering their payload capacities.

4-6 ton batteries with 700-1000km ranges and 5-8% energy penalties may be best, and would likely add $110-170k of cost at 2020 battery costs. 

Our roadmap to decarbonize trucking most prefers carbon-offset diesel, then hybridization with super-capacitors, then electric semi-trucks, and least prefers hydrogen trucks.

Proton exchange membrane fuel cells: what challenges?

This data-file reviews fifty patents into proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs), filed by leading companies in the space in 2020, in order to understand the key challenges the industry is striving to overcome.

The key focus areas are controlling the temperature, humidity and longevity of hydrogen fuel cells. But unfortunately, we find over half of the proposed solutions are likely to increase end costs.

We remain cautious on the practicalities and the economics of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (2x most costly than conventional vehicles per km, note here) and hydrogen fuel cells for power generation (10x more costly, note here).

Alternative truck fuels: how economic?

This data-file compares different trucking fuels — diesel, CNG, LNG, LPG and Hydrogen — across 35 variables. Most important are the economics, which are fully modelled, in the 2020s in the US, in the 2020s in Europe and incorporating deflation in the 2040s.

Hydrogen still screens as an expensive alternative. We estimate full cycle freight costs will be c30% higher for hydrogen vehicles than diesels in Europe, and as much as 2x higher in the US. The data-file contains a breakdown of hydrogen truck concepts and their operating parameters.

Natural Gas can be close to competitive. On an energy-equivalent basis, $3/mcf gas is 4x more economical than $3/gal diesel. However, the advantages are offset by higher vehicle costs, operational costs and logistical costs. Mild environmental positives of gas are also offset by mild operational challenges.

Container ships versus trucks and trains

This data-file tabulates c10 examples for the fuel economy of container vessels, which is a function of their size and speed.

The most efficient container ships are 2x more efficient than typical trains and 20x more efficient than typical trucks.

We calculate that moving goods from overseas to the developed world’s c1bn consumers accounts for c0.5% of global CO2 emissions (c50% in ships, c50% in trucks). These calculations are also shown in the data-file.

A Short History of Travel Speeds

This is our database of global travel speeds throughout history. It contains notes on the top travel-speeds attainable by different forms of transportation; plus more granular data on the average travel speeds in Britain since the 1970s.

Top travel speeds have increased by c100x since pre-industrial times, however in the past 20-years, the trend has reversed and begun slowing down. Average travel speeds are down c6-7% since 2000, connoting lower mobility.

 

Vehicle Efficiency: Electrifying?

This data-file quantifies the energy efficiency of fourteen different transportation types, in mpg, miles per kWh, passenger miles per kWh and CO2 intensity per passenger mile.

“Efficiency” is calculated using an apples-to-apples methodology, comparing real-world fuel consumption to equations of mechanics (i.e., stop-starts and air resistance, per Tab 3 in the model).

Electrification generally offers a c4x efficiency gain, jumping from c15-20% on conventional oil-powered vehicles to c60-80% on electric vehicles. Hybrids and hydrogen also yield modest efficiency improvements.

Most exciting is the set of emerging, electric transportation technologies, which are faster than incumbents, yet also achieve 4-120x efficiency gains per passenger mile (chart below).

LNG in transport: scaling up by scaling down?

Next-generation technology in small-scale LNG has potential to reshape the global shipping-fuels industry. Especially after IMO 2020 sulphur regulations, LNG should compete with diesel. This note outlines the technologies, economics and opportunities for LNG as a transport fuel.

Maintenance costs for gas-powered trucks?

This data-file tabulates the maintenance costs incurred by a fleet of 42x CNG-powered trucks, over 16M miles in the United States. Maintenance costs averaged 8c/mile, of which 1.6c/mile (i.e., 20%) was specifically attributed to running on CNG. Specifically, gas spark plugs must be replaced every 60,000 miles, niche maintenance operations are more expensive and in one instance, the truck engines were damaged by ‘wet fuel’.

Copyright: Thunder Said Energy, 2022.