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JCB launches hydrogen excavator by adapting conventional diesel engine

June 14, 2021

(MAKRO Group Press) – The British company, one of the most recognized in industrial machinery, believes that a hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engine could be a cheaper and faster way to meet emissions targets.

Most of you reading this are probably familiar with the JCB brand, as it is common to see its heavy machinery at work in the city – be it on construction sites, gardening, etc. The British company is working to reduce its emissions. The British company is working to reduce its CO2 emissions and in that sense points to its latest presentation, a hydrogen backhoe loader that uses a modified diesel engine as a base.

JCB’s new hydrogen backhoe loader does not use a fuel cell system, but an adaptation of the Dieselmax 448 engine that JCB uses in other machines. The firm has made substantial modifications to the diesel engine to allow it to run solely on hydrogen, so it does not emit carbon dioxide (CO2).

The new engine has a completely new intake system, with new pistons, lower compression and a common-rail direct injection system with new injection ports. The aim has been to match the performance and operating characteristics of existing diesel engines, reducing both CO2 and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. Even without any filters, the hydrogen engine emits less polluting gases than a modern diesel with subsequent filters and catalytic converters (which, in JCB’s case, reduce NOx emissions by 98%).

Despite the modifications, it is significantly more economical than a fuel cell or battery electric excavator. For that reason, JCB believes this technology can help the transport and heavy equipment industry reach the UK government’s zero emissions target more quickly than technologies such as current batteries.

Early trials of this engine on real backhoe loaders have been successful enough for the company’s engineers to be confident that this technology can be applied to a wider range of its vehicles. In fact, JCB plans to further develop this hydrogen engine and says it already has its sights set on production. According to JCB’s head of innovation, Tim Burnhope, the big advantages of the hydrogen engine are that “it can be brought into production quickly and affordably, while the know-how and infrastructure of internal combustion engines will remain relevant.”

This is not the first hydrogen-powered machine JCB has introduced. Last year it introduced the hydrogen-powered JCB 220X, a 20-ton excavator that, in that case, did use a fuel cell. JCB’s chairman, Lord Anthony Bamford, decided in July last year to set up a specialist hydrogen engine research team at the company’s R&D center out of growing concern about the impending loss of internal combustion engine expertise and infrastructure and the dissolution of an entire well-positioned supply chain.

Lord Bamford’s son, Jo Bamford, founded Ryse Hydrogen after working in the family business. He acquired the Wrightbus bus company and has won contracts to supply the first hydrogen double-decker bus to cities such as London and Aberdeen. Father and son are resolute in their commitment to hydrogen: “We are no longer advocating diesel; that horse has bolted. The goal must be zero carbon emissions, but we don’t believe batteries and fuel cells are the only solutions.”

Source: Autocar

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