Zero Emissions Vehicle Awareness Initiative

Leveraging the most abundant element in the universe

The Zero Emissions Vehicle Awareness Initiative (ZEVAI) includes developing and executing educational tools and safe operating procedures for commercial drivers and first responders and increasing hydrogen awareness.


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Education and Resources

Is hydrogen safe? What is a hydrogen fuel cell and how does it work?

Learn the answers


The Zero Emissions Vehicle Awareness Initiative (ZEVAI) includes developing and executing educational tools and safe operating procedures for drivers and first responders and increasing hydrogen awareness. Project goals are to de-risk market entry and facilitate early market adoption of hydrogen as a clean energy alternative. Data concerning vehicle performance, driver behaviours, and maintenance will be collected during the hydrogen commercial vehicle demonstrations. The driver experience will inform industry on technology benefits that support driver health, including, but not limited to, reductions in vehicle sound and vibrations.

About AMTA

The Alberta Motor Transport Association is a not-for-profit, advocacy and safety training association function as The Voice, The Standard and The Resource for commercial transportation in Alberta. For more than 80 years, our work has encompassed a broad range of environmental, social, economic, safety and compliance matters that impact provincial highways. Projects in research and innovation enable AMTA to bring key stakeholders together to lead research and develop new technologies that will significantly enhance the industry while reducing human and environmental impacts.

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Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but it does not typically appear in isolation. It can be found in water, fossil fuels, or biomass. To extract hydrogen, processes such as electrolysis or steam methane reforming are used. By investing in a portfolio of non-combustion hydrogen production technologies, including steam reformers and electrolyzers, commercial vehicle developers transform various types of feedstocks into hydrogen with low-to-negative carbon intensity. [1]

In commercial vehicles, hydrogen is used as a source of fuel, held in specially made tanks. Hydrogen from the tanks is then funneled into the fuel cell system, where it combines with air to generate electricity that powers vehicles with zero emissions. [1]

[1] Hyzon Motors

Learn the answers

Education and Resources

Yes, hydrogen is safe; however, it is fuel, and all fuels can be hazardous. When fed into a fuel cell, hydrogen can power vehicles and trucks without releasing harmful emissions. Hydrogen-specific dangers include leaks and flammability. Hydrogen is much safer than gasoline several of its properties make it safe to manage and use. Primarily, hydrogen is non-toxic, meaning that any leaks or spills will not contaminate the environment. Moreover, when released, hydrogen disperses extremely quickly, greatly reducing the risk of accidental ignition unlike vapors from gasoline or propane (1). The major safety issue is losing containment of hydrogen; as a gas, it is stored under high pressure that could injure nearby personnel and, as a cryogen, it could cause injuries such as frostbite.

Hydrogen vehicles and storage systems are manufactured to minimum safety standards, and all safety precautions for vehicles and refueling are per hydrogen-specific codes.

Source: Hyzon Motors

A hydrogen fuel cell is made up of layers through which hydrogen and oxygen are funneled to produce electricity. Each fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) has many of these layers – the accumulation of which is called the fuel cell stack.

Fuel cell vehicles use hydrogen to power an electric motor. Unlike conventional vehicles that run on gasoline or diesel, fuel cell vehicles combine hydrogen and oxygen within a fuel cell to produce electricity, which is directed into the electric motor and/or the battery, as needed. Fuel cell vehicles have a long-range, are easy to refuel, are practically silent and only emit water vapour.

Commercial vehicles eliminate carbon emissions that are harmful to our environment, our community, and our drivers. On the contrary, hydrogen commercial vehicles emit only water vapor. The use of energy-dense hydrogen means commercial vehicles have the power, range, payload, and refueling time typical of diesel trucks – all while maintaining zero-emission technology.

What are the environmental impacts of a hydrogen-powered commercial vehicle?

Hydrogen-powered vehicles emit nothing but water vapor; therefore, FCEV and dual-fuel vehicles significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector.

In Canada, more than 480,000 Class 8 trucks consume approximately 30.1 billion litres of diesel in a year. Converting vehicles to run fully or partially on hydrogen will reduce the caron dioxide emissions of each vehicle by 40- to 100 per cent.

Yes, hydrogen injection systems help operators optimize truck and bus performance, fuel efficiency, and emissions reduction regardless of payload and weather. Unlike electric vehicles that need to keep the battery warm, no additional equipment is required for hydrogen-powered vehicles. Hydrogen remains a gas at temperatures down to -259.2 C, meaning there is no risk of freezing. If the pressure in the storage tanks increase beyond acceptable levels, due to hydrogen expansion from temperature, the pressure release devices open venting excess hydrogen to maintain safe operating pressure.

Source: Hydra Energy

At this time, hydrogen technology is more expensive, but as market demand continues to grow, we are confident these costs will decrease. The federal government has announced the incentives, Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero Emissions Vehicle (iMHZEV) program that will provide carriers up to a maximum of $100,000 in cash-back incentives for early adoption of zero-emissions commercial vehicle technology.

Canada is internationally renowned as among the world’s lowest cost places to make hydrogen with exceptionally low GHG emissions. Diesel has fueled freight transport for more than 100 years, but hydrogen fueling times are comparable to diesel-powered equipment. Alberta can make blue hydrogen at about half of the wholesale cost of diesel energy, and about one-third the retail cost. AMTA’s Hydrogen Vehicle Demonstrations will examine the total cost of ownership to determine both the timeline and inputs needed for FCEV to be economically competitive with conventional combustion engines.

Source: Hydra Energy

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