Hyundai Motor's hydrogen cleaning truck Hyundai Motor's hydrogen cleaning truck

2022.01.05 Hyundai Motor Group 분량6min

Hydrogen Cleaning Truck Protecting the Health of City Cleaning Crews

Sanitation workers are essential to keep our daily lives clean; and there is something that keeps those workers healthy - the hydrogen cleaning trucks traveling all over the place in the city.

Hyundai Motor Group has released the ‘Dear My Hero’ campaign video, which introduces a commercial hydrogen mobility, the hydrogen cleaning truck, using eco-friendly hydrogen energy. This video, produced as part of Hyundai Motor Group's new technology campaign 'Big Idea', introduces positive changes in the working environment of sanitation workers from Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do, utilizing a hydrogen cleaning truck. The hydrogen cleaning truck in the video has been operating a pilot program in Changwon since the beginning of this year. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Korea Automobile Research Institute, Korea Institute of Industrial Technology Evaluation and Planning, and Changwon City cooperated to verify the performance and completeness of these trucks.

It is clear why the Hyundai Motor Group converted their hydrogen truck into a city sweeper to verify the performance of the hydrogen-powered truck; it is suitable for verifying the durability of the fuel cell system even during excessively long working hours, and the advantages of eco-friendly hydrogen technology - reduction of exhaust gas, dust, noise, heat, and vibration - are outstanding. In the Dear My Hero campaign video, sanitation workers use hydrogen cleaning trucks, making their work life more convenient than the cleaning trucks with internal combustion engines. In other words, it shows how effective hydrogen technology can be when it is used where it is most needed. And this also fits the purpose of the Big Idea campaign, which values the impact of future new technologies on our society.

Hydrogen cleaning truck night work

In order to understand the positive effect of the hydrogen cleaning truck in the Dear My Hero video, we need to first understand the working environment of the sanitation workers. They are often injured by sharp objects while collecting garbage, and they often face dangerous situations because it is difficult to see things while they work at night and the dawn. According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Environment between 2015 and 2017, 1,822 people (18 deaths) have suffered from such accidents.

One of the many causes of their poor working conditions is their cleaning trucks. A cleaning truck equipped with a large internal combustion engine of 6,000cc or more emits a large amount of exhaust gas, dust, and heat, and these workers have to use it for hours, non-stop. In fact, many sanitation workers behind cleaning trucks are exposed to higher amounts of dust than miners (based on a pilot study of medical examinations of sanitation / specialized workers conducted by the Ministry of Employment and Labor 2020), and the temperature of the rear body of the truck, while it collects garbage, reaches 54℃.

Another risk factor is that the noise from the engine and the garbage compactor makes it difficult for workers to communicate while working; many citizens do not welcome the noise at night, either. Dirty hands and body while collecting garbage is also a problem. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute of the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency, the concentration of bacteria exposed to sanitation workers is 44.4 times that of the atmosphere, and the Labor Environment Health Research Institute announced that about 290,000 microorganisms were detected on the faces of workers who finished their work. Because of this, they suffer from thirst and hunger while they work.

The eco-friendly hydrogen technology can create a clean and safe environment

Sanitation engineer and hydrogen cleaning truck

In the Dear My Hero campaign video, the hydrogen cleaning truck makes the work environment of sanitation workers safer and cleaner. Hydrogen cleaning trucks combine hydrogen and atmospheric oxygen in a fuel cell system to create water (effluent); They generate electrical energy through this process, and this does not emit exhaust gas except for clean water and air. Of course, it generates heat when the electrochemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen occurs, but the cooling water surrounding the fuel cell system traps the heat. This is good news for workers who had to sweat a lot from the heat of the engine and exhaust gas. Since it does not emit exhaust gas, there is no micro-dust either.

The hydrogen cleaning truck only makes a small mechanical sound of the electric motor while it is running or collecting garbage, with almost no noise or vibrations. This makes it easier to have a conversation between the workers behind and in the truck, and it would not disturb the sleeping citizens during the early morning. According to an internal analysis of the Hyundai Motor Group research institute, the overall noise of the hydrogen cleaning truck has been reduced by about 40% compared to the regular one.

Structure of hydrogen cleaning truck using discharged water

Also, Hyundai Motor Group has prepared a simple washbasin for them; They are now able to wash their hands and faces in the hydrogen cleaning truck. According to the analysis results of Hyundai Motor Group's research institute, the exhaust water of hydrogen electric vehicles is not harmful to the human body, has no environmental pollutants, and is even drinkable.

The hydrogen cleaning truck is equipped with two water tanks. The first tank stores the drained water, and the workers can add more water using the second tank for the washbasin if needed. The average amount of discharged water generated by the hydrogen cleaning truck for one hour is 22.5 liters; just storing this water to wash dirty hands and faces would greatly improve their working conditions.

The sanitation workers in the Dear My Hero video shared their feelings after experiencing the hydrogen cleaning truck.

“It feels like the noise has been reduced by half. It’s much safer because now we can communicate smoothly while working, without yelling or beckoning like we used to.”

“The exhaust gas and the dust used to give me a sore throat and itchy eyes every time I load garbages on the back of the truck. It was also very hot. Hydrogen cleaning trucks make all these problems go away.”

“I wear a lot of protective gear to work, but it often rips and gets dirty while I work. I used to have skin diseases for that. Just being able to wash my hands from time to time is very hygienic.”

Sanitation engineer is washing his hands

Sanitation engineer and hydrogen cleaning truck

The hydrogen cleaning truck in the Dear My Hero video simply shows how eco-friendly hydrogen technology can make our lives better; and the value of ‘human-centered progress’ pursued by Hyundai Motor Group. New technologies for the future have developed for a better life. Hyundai Motor Group completed the pilot operation of the hydrogen cleaning truck by the end of December last year. The data obtained through the pilot operation in 2021 will be used to study the various uses of hydrogen-powered trucks and to improve technological perfection.