Pioneering EcoTruck delivered to Holstebro Cemeteries
On 15 December 2011, Holstebro Cemeteries received the first commercially produced EcoMotion MaxiTruck, which runs on methanol-driven fuel cells. The truck, and its pioneering technology, is the first of its type ever sold to a Danish workplace. This also marks a key milestone in the EcoMotion cooperation between four Danish companies.
Mobile power station
In autumn 2010, Holstebro Cemeteries tested a prototype of the EcoMotion Truck. It was received enthusiastically by the team of gardeners, who then ordered a fully operational model. A year later, cemetery assistant Erik Søvndal and his colleagues can look forward to driving out in the first commercially produced EcoMotion MaxiTruck. "It's really exciting to be involved in EcoMotion, and we're looking forward to using the truck. I can't help thinking of Rudolf Diesel, the German who invented the first diesel engine in 1897. Then, no-one could imagine how this would develop. Maybe one day the EcoMotion Truck's technology will replace the diesel engine,” said Erik.
This is the first time that a fuel-cell based work vehicle has been sold to a Danish workplace. Like its prototype, the EcoMotion MaxiTruck is also a mobile power station that is easy on the environment too, since it is CO2 neutral. The truck runs on methanol, better known as wood alcohol. Thanks to the efficient fuel cells, the batteries are continuously and silently recharged, typically giving enough power for three days' operation. The truck also generates power for the built-in power outlet, so the gardeners do not have to drag along metres of cabling for their electric hedge trimmers. Unlike the prototype, the final model for Holstebro Cemeteries has been further developed to feature four-wheel drive and pivot steering. This was requested by the gardeners, as it helps them manage the cemeteries' winding paths.
The companies GMR maskiner A/S, Serenergy A/S and Energiselskabet OK a.m.b.a., together with the Danish Institute of Technology, have formed the EcoMotion partnership, with the object of developing the electrically-driven work vehicles of the future, based on innovative energy technologies. The entire project is supported by EUDP (the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Programme), under the auspices of the Danish Energy Agency. EUDP projects will help to make Denmark non-dependent on fossil fuels by 2050 and also develop Danish business potential, for the benefit of growth and employment. According to Nicolai Zarganis, head of secretariat at EUDP, it is an important milestone for EcoMotion that the project has now come so far that there is a commercially developed product available for sale:
"The fuel-cell technology has major potential in the transport area, but it has been a long time coming. So it is wonderful that Ecomotion has managed to integrate the methanol-driven fuel-cell technology in a work vehicle and to achieve a commercial product. This is an important step in the commercialisation of fuel cells and brings non-dependence on fossil fuels a step closer."
Methanol can be the fuel of tomorrow
Svend Lykkemark Christensen, head of secretariat at OK a.m.b.a., explained how the combination of methanol and fuel cells not only ensures almost silent operation, but also reduces CO2, hydrocarbons and particle pollution: "Methanol is a potential replacement for fossil fuels since, besides being gentler on the environment, it is also a liquid fuel that can be handled in the existing distribution systems. EcoMotion is a good example of how methanol and fuel cells can be used to run an actual vehicle," Svend explained.
More EcoMotion Trucks being put to work
Besides Holstebro Cemeteries, other enterprises such as Billund Airport, Aalborg Zoo and Esbjerg Municipality have each ordered an EcoMotion Truck. These will be built and delivered by GMR maskiner in the course of the autumn. Niels Kirkegaard, CEO of GMR, is very positive about the market for work vehicles with methanol-driven fuel cells. "We have a unique product that can be used in many different ways because the built-in power centre means the vehicle is also a power supply. In several markets we will be able to offer an efficient alternative to the present diesel-operated vehicles. So I believe that EcoMotion vehicles are definitely here to stay," Niels said.