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Truck, car powered by hydrogen make a stop in Connecticut

The state hopes work in the field of hydrogen production give it the edge in future infrastructure plans.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Another piece of the renewable energy puzzle was on display in the form of two hydrogen-powered vehicles on Wednesday.

A hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai and a Toyota/Kenworth truck paid a visit to the hydrogen refueling station at the Pride station on Jennings Road in Hartford.

The Mirai, a passenger car a little larger than a Toyota Avalon, is powered by a fuel cell that uses hydrogen for fuel. The only emission is water. The Mirai is currently available in California, where there is a network of hydrogen fueling stations. Introduced in 2014, the car is currently in its second generation.

“We've sold over 10,000 of them since its introduction in 2016,” Robert Wimmer, director of Energy and Environmental Research for Toyota Motor North America. “And there are 53 refueling stations similar to the one that's here that can refuel the vehicle in three to five minutes.”

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The Toyota Fuel Cell Electric Class 8 Truck is the result of a partnership with Kenworth. Started in 2019, the venture is part of a $41 million grant awarded by the California Air Resources Board as a way to reduce emissions at the Port of Los Angeles.

On hand was Gov. Ned Lamont, who is pushing to have Connecticut be the location of a hydrogen hub as part of President Biden’s infrastructure proposals. The hub, which already exists in California, would serve as a distribution point for hydrogen in a given area. Lamont took a quick ride in the truck and moments later hopped in the Mirai and drove that on the road for a bit.

“We're competing along with New York and Massachusetts for a hydrogen hub, said Lamont. “That'd be a variety of these charging stations all over the state. Right now, Connecticut is already a leader in separating hydrogen out from H2O, water, and hope that gives us a running head start for this advantage.”

Part of the state’s leadership on fuel cell power is in Storrs where the University of Connecticut’s Depot Campus gets its electricity. According to Interim UConn President Dr. Radenka Maric, UConn’s Center for Clean Energy Engineering works with the companies in Connecticut and has experience with hydrogen manufacturing and deployment.

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“The truck is basically a larger version of the sedan we've taken two of the fuel cell power plants from the Mirai sedan integrated them into a tractor-trailer with a battery and larger fuel storage tanks that allows the tractor-trailer to travel 300 miles on a fill of fuel at its gross vehicle weight of 80,000 pounds,” said Wimmer. “Its performance is actually better than a traditional diesel vehicle because the driver doesn't have to shift gears and it's a very smooth, quiet ride, unlike your big diesel engines in a tractor-trailer.”

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Wimmer said the best use case for the truck is for daily use when they travel under 300 miles in a shift and return to the central hub at the end of the day. The maintenance cost is slightly less than a comparable diesel truck.

Doug Stewart is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. He can be reached at dstewart@fox61.com.


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