H2Rescue is a first-of-its-kind hydrogen fuel cell/battery hybrid vehicle and it’s an emergency truck like no other—a zero emission, self-propelled electric generator that may just be the future of disaster response. This project is a collaboration between the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), Federal Emergency Management Agency, industry partner Accelera by Cummins Inc., and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. S&T Under Secretary Dr. Dimitri Kusnezov, DOE Deputy Secretary David Turk, S&T Community and Infrastructure Resilience Program Manager Ron Langhelm, and others joined the team behind the innovation in Washington, DC, to showcase H2Rescue—and we were there to get up close and personal with this impressive prototype.
- News Release: DHS S&T Concludes Testing for Carbon-Free H2@Rescue Vehicle for Disaster Preparedness
- Feature Article: Delivering Clean Power to Disaster Scenes, Without Compromise
- Hydrogen Fuel Cell-Powered Emergency Relief Truck Fact Sheet
- Recorded on June 5, 2023, at U.S. Department of Energy Headquarters in Washington, DC
Guests: Dr. Dimitri Kusnezov, Under Secretary, S&T, David Turk, Deputy Secretary, Department of Energy, Nick Josefik, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Prateek Vaish, Accelera by Cummins, Ron Langhelm, Program Manager, S&T, and Sunita Satyapal, Director, Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office, Department of Energy.
[00:00:00] Dave: Welcome to Tech Speak, a mini episode of the Technologically Speaking Podcast. I'm Dave, editor for S&T. What you just heard was the gentle hum of the H2Rescue truck parked outside the Department of Energy's headquarters in Washington, DC this past June…
[00:00:24] David Turk: It's terrific to be here for the unveiling of our H2Rescue truck. This is a three-year effort in the making. This is a mark of our technological and our interagency and our public and private partnership progress.
[00:00:42] Dave: And that was the voice of the DOE Deputy Secretary David Turk. He was joined by S&T's Under Secretary, Dr. Dimitri Kusnezov, and others for an exhibition of this revolutionary emergency response vehicle. Let's hear from Dimitri next.
[00:00:55] Dimitri Kusnezov: And I don't think, you know, people fully appreciate what it means to not have power. You know, we understand from power failures that happen around here, certainly in Washington, Snowmageddon, and things that we've experienced, uh oh yeah, okay. I've not had power for a few days, but you don't realize how critical it is for communities until you don't have it. And so having solutions, new solutions that are vital to our collective future are really important.
[00:01:25] Dave: H2Rescue is a first-of-its-kind, hydrogen fuel/cell battery hybrid truck, and it's one such new solution. Let's find out what it can do from Nick Josefik with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
[00:01:36] Nick Josefik: What we designed it for is it can drive 180 miles and then it can provide that 25kilowatts for 72 hours. So that's powering 15 homes for 72 hours straight all on one fuel and, and you get to, you get to decide how you use that fuel in an emergency. So, if you have a longer distance to drive, you just can't export as much power. So you get that, that choice. And then if you ever just like the diesel generators, if you're in a situation where this vehicle has to stay for a long time, you could just trailer some hydrogen in, refuel these tanks and then keep producing power. Say a hurricane takes place somewhere in the United States. States, there's no power, there's no water. This vehicle can immediately drive to the location, and it doesn't have to bring any extra equipment. The same fuel that allows the vehicle to drive, also powers the export power, and all you have to do is plug your equipment into the side of the truck.
[00:02:39] Dave: Next, let's learn how the technology behind H2 Rescue works from Prateek Vaish from Accelera by Cummins, the private industry partners on this project.
[00:02:48] Prateek Vaish: The fuel cell generates DC power. It generates power with charges of batteries and batteries, they power the motor, so it's just generating power on board. It's just like the electric cars, the remote electric cars that a child runs. Exactly same. There, it is run by batteries, here, it's run by a fuel cell. It was a cooperative partnership. And we had great support from our government partners. And overall, it was a very healthy environment to work and a great project. You can see the results right here. This is I think hydrogen is how and hydrogen is now.
[00:03:23] Dave: Interesting stuff. Let's move along to S&T program manager, Ron Langhelm discussing how the technology meets modern disaster response needs in general.
[00:03:31] Ron Langhelm: So, the truck itself, you know, having the ability to drive from point A to point B and not have to refill and then meet all of the requirements for power generation, like in one package, is something very unique. Um, it really minimizes the complications of getting power onto, uh, into the disaster environment. There's less things to break, less things to go wrong. Uh, I think that this is a great example of something that has the ability to help us adapt. Um, and that's the most of bulk of my work with climate is the adaptation aspect of it, you know, can't necessarily change it, but how are we going to adjust? How are we going to move? How are we going to do things differently, uh, based on the climate related issues that we're looking towards to the future?
[00:04:08] Dave: The Department of Energy was a major driving force, pun intended, on this effort. Next up is Sunita Satyapal from DOE's hydrogen fuel cell technologies office expanding on the clean energy big picture.
[00:04:19] Sunita Satyapal: So, as the director of the office, we oversee the entire value chain of hydrogen production all the way through end use. And so, this was a really innovative concept several years ago now that we came up with, uh, this, um, basically the approach of using hydrogen and fuel cells in a truck and being able to go to a disaster site and provide power and heat and even water. So, hydrogen, and fuel cells can be used in multiple applications and can enable zero emissions, energy, security, resiliency. And so, we as government agencies, we're funding the innovation, the research. So, we help to de-risk the technology before the private sector can take it up. So again, this is first of a kind and that can help translate into, um, commercially viable products. And then we also have recent analysis, which shows that if we're successful with hydrogen and fuel cells, we could enable a hundred thousand jobs by 2030. So, there are many, many examples of the benefit to the American people.
[00:05:30] Dave: It seems like this is just the beginning of a clean energy revolution for emergency response and a whole new way of dealing with natural disasters. Let's give our Under Secretary the final word.
[00:05:39] Dimitri Kusnezov: There is no one size fits all in that if we have this vehicle, we're done. Uh, the needs are, are disparate. The, the crises are always unique, and, and the more tools we have, the better off we're going to be to meet the needs of the country as we face the next whatever it is. Having more ways to solve problems is, is really key, and that's what science and technology can do for you. You know, I think it's important because most people don't realize how well government agencies can work together and how well public-private partnerships can work in terms of sharing risk, in terms of sharing vision, in terms of trying to deliver against goals larger than yourselves. And so seeing all of those is a reflection of that. It is nice to see, and, and we need to do more of that. I'd like to drive it around the block and see how quiet it is. It's great.
[00:06:32] Dave: I wouldn't mind getting behind the wheel of that truck myself. This has been Tech Speak. You can learn more about H2Rescue and other exciting R&D projects on S&T's website and by following us at DHS Sci Tech, D H S, S C I T E C H. Bye.