ZF Group and Liebherr Collaborate on Advanced Fuel Cell Air Compressor for Commercial Vehicles

What’s Happening

ZF Group’s Commercial Vehicle Solutions (CVS) division has unveiled a revolutionary eMobility product, an advanced compressor for fuel cells, as part of their latest endeavor to promote decarbonization in the commercial vehicle sector. This significant development comes in collaboration with the Aerospace & Transportation segment of the Liebherr Group, marking an exclusive development agreement between the two companies.

Why It Matters

Decarbonization of the commercial vehicle industry demands a flexible technology approach, according to Dr. Peter Laier, a board member responsible for ZF’s Commercial Vehicle Solutions and Industrial Technology divisions. He envisions a future where a significant number of commercial vehicles on the road are powered by fuel cells. This is particularly true for long-haul vehicles where the extra battery charging time and driving range necessary will necessitate a fuel cell approach.

Key Points

ZF’s new compressor is integral to high-performance fuel cell systems, ensuring a reliable air supply. The Liebherr-Aerospace & Transportation SAS brings over 40 years of experience in high-power density, high-speed turbo machinery, and air bearing technology, initially gleaned from aircraft applications and later developed for the automotive sector.

Through this collaboration, ZF aims to support an extensive range of vehicle platforms with a modular, compact, and scalable design. Thanks to its air bearing design, the enhanced compressor offers numerous benefits such as oil-free, high-speed, efficient operation, and high power density. The compressor’s durability, even in the most demanding heavy-duty commercial vehicle applications, remains a critical focus.

Bottom Line

This partnership with Liebherr represents a significant leap forward for ZF’s strategy to fast-track fuel cell development. The combined expertise will allow ZF to significantly accelerate the time-to-market for commercial vehicle fuel cell air compressors, according to Claus Umnus, Senior Vice President of the product line Chassis Technology with ZF’s Commercial Vehicle Solutions division.

Dr. Klaus Schneider, Chief Technology Officer with Liebherr-Aerospace & Transportation SAS, points to their over 40 years of experience in developing and producing air cycle air conditioning systems as a key advantage. These systems, based on air bearing technology, have seen successful performance in commercial aircraft, business jets, and the railway market. Transferred to the automotive market in the early 2000s, this compressor technology has proven effective in fuel cell propulsion systems.

The development agreement between ZF and Liebherr signifies the latest partnership in ZF’s CVS division’s ongoing efforts to advance its eMobility strategy for commercial vehicles.


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