BOWMANVILLE, Ont. – It might be called hydrogen-a-go-go. Or the little box that could.
Canadian Hydrogen Energy Co. Ltd. of Bowmanville, Ont. this summer is launching its Hydrogen Fuel Injection (HFI) unit, a breakthrough technology contained in a 24 in. high by 12 in. deep by 12 in. wide stainless steel box that’s affixed to the frame of a Class 8 tractor between the cab and rear wheels.
Ten years in the making, and with former Ontario Tory MPP Steve Gilchrist, the province’s first alternative energy commissioner, signed on as vice-president of government affairs, the company claims the Canadian-designed technology will dramatically increase truck engine fuel efficiency and vastly cut diesel emissions, helping the environment and saving drivers considerable money on their fuel bills.
The unit, which weighs 85 lbs., is priced at $15,000.
But Canadian Hydrogen doesn’t plan to sell the unit at that price.
Available for rent or lease
The company plans to rent it out or lease it to buy.
Depending on how the payment plan is structured an operator could, for example, pay a monthly fee of $320.
But the device can save 10 per cent or more in fuel costs, company general sales manager John Degani said.
“We’re guaranteeing a 10 per cent fuel savings. We know we’re getting a lot better.
“We had to draw the line somewhere.”
Increases as high as 27 per cent have been seen, Degani said. At 10 per cent an operator would realize a $400 saving on $4,000 monthly fuel costs and be “positive right out of the gate by about $80,” he said.
The unit is extremely easy to operate and maintain, said Degani.
A driver need only fill it with four litres of distilled water every 12,000 kilometres.
A couple of wires attached to the engine alternator provide amperage to an anode and cathode inside the HFI, which splits the water molecules into two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen.
The hydrogen is then transported by a PVC-like plastic pipe to the engine’s turbo, gets compressed, and is sent on its way along with the air and fuel mix.
The hydrogen “acts like a catalyst” and burns the fuel much more efficiently than air and fuel alone, Degani said, burning as much as 90 per cent of the fuel compared to about 45 per cent normally.
Besides requiring fewer oil changes because less unburned hydrocarbons are captured in the oil thereby degrading it, carbon dioxide emissions are reduced to “virtually nil,” Degani said.
Particulate matter is reduced by 50 per cent.
And nitrogen oxide – “very, very difficult to get down” – is reduced by up to 15 per cent, when “the rest of the world is working at reducing it by about seven per cent.”
The company plans to market the units through existing truck sales and service centres, “because clients go to them for a reason, they trust them,” Degani said.
A dealer network is nearing completion in Ontario and a roll out is planned throughout most of Canada over the coming year.
While the unit can be adapted to a variety of engine displacements between seven-and-a-half and 16 litres, the company is targetting larger motor operators for the time being.
“That’s specifically the people we’re going after right now,” Degani said.
“The tractor-trailer market. The guys who are doing long hauls, who are on the road quite often.”
The company also has plans to target users of smaller engines in the future.
The more you save
Even rising fuel prices favour the unit because the higher the price “the more savings you’ll gain,” Degani said.
Drivers picked by the company during trials to carry the unit have been generally happy, if not ecstatic, about the HFI’s benefits.
“I loved it,” said former owner/operator Al Stewart of Winnipeg, recently retired from trucking because of personal health problems.
“It just made a total difference in the running of my truck.”
He said he saved a mile a gallon on a heavy load, and a mile-and-a-half or more on lighter loads.
And he said the unit benefited his Detroit engine more so than a later Volvo.
Broker Peter Bot of Rodney, Ont., reached in the early morning just before heading east out of Calgary, told Truck News his HFI has given him as many as two miles more per gallon on his Ford. “I definitely have fuel savings.”