Interview with André Beukers, CEO of E-Trucks Europe
André Beukers is the CEO of E-Trucks Europe. He is closely involved with the REVIVE project. His company is equipping the 15 hydrogen electric hybrid refuse collection vehicles with a hydrogen fuel cell system. In the interview below, he tells more about the working of E-Trucks.
Can you explain how E-Trucks proceeds when a refuse truck needs to be converted to run on hydrogen?
“We always talk about ‘building’ a truck. The refuse trucks are retrofitted with a hydrogen tank and a fuel cell. The size and volume of the tanks we install is based on the wishes of the customer. They can choose between a volume of 15, 20 or 30 kilograms hydrogen, dependent on the desired operating radius. Then a battery pack and a fuel cell are added. Thirty kilograms of hydrogen is comparable to 300 litres of Diesel. A truck needs 8 to 10 kg a day. So with a tank volume of 30 kg, a refuse truck can collect refuse for three days before having to refuel. Refuelling will only takes 10 minutes.”
How long does it take to get the refuse trucks on the road?
“The last two years we have worked intensely on the EU-approval of the trucks. Now all our trucks are homologated, which means the entire process of building a hydrogen truck can be done in 6 months.”
Are you involved in other hydrogen projects, besides REVIVE?
“We have built refuse trucks for the cities of Groningen, Breda, Amsterdam and Helmond in The Netherlands. There are also private initiatives, like Baetsen and Vos Logistics. E-Trucks is also involved in other EU Interreg projects, like Life N’ Grab Hy.”
Refuse trucks can differ immensely between manufacturers. There are side loaders, rear loaders, … . Does this create difficulties?
“The vehicles themselves are mostly similar. Only the location of the fuel cell, hydrogen tanks (placed in strong frames) and the batteries may differ. On a side loader, we place the tanks vertically under the cabin. This way, we can achieve a volume of 20 kg of hydrogen. On rear loaders, the tanks are placed horizontally on the roof of the vehicle, with a volume of 15 or 30 kg hydrogen. Of course, all vehicles are rigorously tested and analysed on safety before they are deemed finished.”
How important is a project like REVIVE for E-Trucks Europe?
“It is very important and provides a beautiful opportunity. It gives an impulse to customers to consider hydrogen refuse vehicles and with more people interested, the operation costs can be reduced.”
Are you satisfied with the project? Are there lessons learned?
“E-Trucks Europe has a vision and we want to move forward with this vision, regardless of the political climate. We do notice that some parties are more careful and restrained. You have to throw yourself in the unknown, covering all the risks is not possible. On the other hand, there are parties who move too fast. We live and work based on the reality, they act on delusion. You have to be able to deal with both. I always make the comparison: we are building as it were an aeroplane. You are not sending it into the air just like that! If the government calls, companies can react somewhat rushed. All the parties that are currently involved in the project, are dedicated and positive.”
Do you have long term plans for the business and how are you envisioning the future?
“Currently, we have outstanding orders for about 20 vehicles. We are expecting the demand to increase, depending on the expansion of the refuelling infrastructures (HRS). Within 3 years, we hope to expand to 50 vehicles a year. Our Dutch plant shall further profile itself as supplier and training centre. We perceive that there is a great need for information and training, so we strive to become a ‘hydrogen experience centre’.”