The following companies have developed a fuel cell the runs in the ultra cold weather expected in Scandinavian countries: Volvo Technology AB, StatoilHydro ASA, SINTEF, the Danish company H2 Logic AS and Powercell Sweden AB.
They say this new fuel cell will replace diesel fuel in forklifts and some of the diesel fuel used by long haul trucks. Hydrogen fuel cell forklifts are a no brainer since in industrial settings they have a single point of refueling, cut down emissions from diesel forklifts and fuel more quickly than electric forklifts can charge.
Even Wal-Mart is now using some hydrogen fuel cell forklifts in some of their facilities. But, fuel cells traditionally struggle with colder temperatures especially when it gets sub zero as it does in Scandinavia in the wintertime. The new Powercell fuel cell is supposed to work well in these freezing temperatures so forklifts can spend a great deal of the time outdoors hauling what they need to haul.
A less immediately practical but more inventive use for the Scandinavian fuel cell is for long haul trucks to power onboard systems. It is estimated that in the U. S. about 600,000 (or ¼ of all of the long haul trucks) are fitted with sleeping alcoves.
Typically, long haul diesel trucks will run at night in neutral (while the trucker sleeps) to run the onboard systems to provide air-conditioning, heating, refrigerator, lighting, and TV. Powering these systems with hydrogen instead of diesel would save 11 million tons of CO2 per year.
Right now this would be impractical in the U. S. because of the lack of hydrogen refueling infrastructure. And even if there were some infrastructure such as trucks running between northern and southern California, this would require two stops, one for diesel fuel and one for hydrogen.
But, perhaps for places that have a more developed hydrogen refueling infrastructure such as Germany, Japan and Norway this would not be such a premature idea. I like the outside-the-box thinking on this one. Now, the infrastructure just needs to catch up.