Catalyst
Published in

Catalyst

The Long Tail In Trucking

Courtesy of Remora

This post is part of a Climate Now podcast series on the intersection of transportation and energy. I encourage you to listen to the full episodes yourself, as well as Climate Now’s other content. It’s chock full of science and data and nitty gritty stuff that often gets glossed over.

After mostly focusing on electric trucks with NACFE, we wanted to speak with two entrepreneurs working on alternative technologies that could help bridge the current capability gap. Bav Roy is the co-founder and COO of Verne, which is producing a novel hydrogen storage system. Paul Gross is the co-founder and co-CEO of Remora, which produces an onboard carbon capture and storage system that can be integrated into an existing diesel semi truck.

Verne

Most hydrogen truck pilots today use compressed hydrogen at 350 or 700 bar. Verne uses a combination of lower temperatures and higher pressures to increase the energy density of its storage system. Whereas today’s hydrogen storage systems cost $500/kg to produce and are sold at $1000/kg, Verne is targeting an end cost of $270/kg. For reference, the Department of Energy (DoE) has a 2025 target is $300/kg. Verne expects its first generation system to provide up to 800 miles of range.

We asked Bav about the ecosystem challenges that would have to be overcome, and he pointed out that while Verne could work with off-the-shelf hydrogen filling stations, there would need to be modifications to realize Verne’s potential. Today’s hydrogen filling stations store H2 in a cryogenic state, then vaporize and compress it as it pumps into a truck’s tank. Future stations would be designed to maintain the temperature of the H2 as it is pumped into Verne’s tanks, so they can maintain a higher density of fuel.

Remora

The team at Remora realized that since heavy duty trucks operate for 10–15 years, even if all new trucks sold suddenly became electric, a large population of diesel trucks would remain on the roads for years. Paul and his colleagues plan to address this long tail by offering a way to capture tailpipe emissions and offload them at normal truck stops.

The Remora system comprises canisters filled with porous beads installed on existing semi tractor mounting points. CO2 molecules get mechanically stuck in the pores, and heat from the exhaust is redirected to expand the pores to free up and store relatively pure CO2. When a driver stops at a facility for refueling, he or she would attach a hose to Remora’s tanks to offload the CO2.

Remora plans to own and operate the facility infrastructure, offering and end-to-end service instead of simply selling equipment. The truck onboard system would sell for $30k, and they expect to generate $22k in revenue per year by selling industrial-grade CO2. By splitting revenue with the truck owner 50–50, they offer a very attractive breakeven period of less than 3 years.

Lots of questions abound on how the price of CO2 might change in the future, and how the market size would shift as trucks electrify. However, Paul pointed out that there will continue to be large markets in other sectors like rail and maritime transport, as well as developing countries without the electrical grids or fuel pipelines required for battery or hydrogen trucks.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store