Why running "Special vehicles" with hydrogen?

September 19, 2023
Why running "Special vehicles" with hydrogen?

Have you ever heard of "special vehicles"? Yet they're part of our daily lives, they're everywhere, and today we're talking to CMAR, a pioneer in this field, which has fully integrated hydrogen into its strategy.  This French company builds and/or distributes these famous "special vehicles":

- Urban cleaning vehicles (sweeping, washing, stripping)

- Rail vehicles for track maintenance and cleaning

- Publicworks: road sweeping or construction cleaning

- Defense

Julien Bonnel, CEO of CMAR, explains how hydrogen fits into his business.

Lhyfe Heroes: Why is hydrogen of interest in your business?

Julien Bonnel: Our business is very specific: we don't just do transport, our vehicles work, they carry tools, ... So they need a lot of power. Power that hydrogen can provide!

They also need to be compact to work in city centers, in restricted areas, etc. And here again, hydrogen meets this need, because for a given power, the space used on the vehicle is really reduced.

And above all, hydrogen has a clear advantage for the operation of these vehicles, which often work in 2x8 or 3x8 shifts: recharging time (just a few minutes) and longevity between fill-ups, far superior to that of electric vehicles, for example.

LH: Do yousee hydrogen coming soon?

JB: We already have sweepers operating in France, and some cities are pioneers in this technology. The upcoming ZFE regulations will help us to move ahead more quickly. These Low Emission Zones, which will be set up mainly in large conurbations, will impose much lower CO2 emission criteria than we have at present, soelectric and hydrogen vehicles should develop more rapidly in the mobility sector.

LH: What are the main problems encountered in the development of hydrogen?

JB: At the moment, it's quite complicated to find recharging infrastructures, whether for electric or hydrogen vehicles. As far as hydrogen is concerned, when everpossible we work within ecosystems, feeding our sweepers with the local recharging station. This is the case in Les Sables d'Olonne, Vendée. In the Ile-de-France region, we have also found a solution to this shortcoming, charging the sweeper with refillable gas cartridges. This solution means we can start work without waiting for the charging station to be installed.

LH: How do you see your hydrogen business developing?

JB: I think that hydrogen will soon be on the agenda for urban rail vehicles. In the medium term, I can also imagine that the public works sector, especially in urban areas, will be concerned by CO2 reduction.

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