JCB pursues development of hydrogen engine
By Ian CameronMay 28, 2021
JCB has developed a hydrogen-fueled engine and also set up a specialist development team as the company believes the technology offers the quickest way to reach carbon dioxide emissions targets.
The company reported it believes hydrogen engines could be used in a variety of its machines although production of the engines would not begin until the end of 2022 at the earliest.
A re-engineered JCB 4.8 L engine is currently running on hydrogen at the company’s engine factory in the UK.
Meanwhile, another JCB 4.8 L hydrogen engine, producing 70 kW, has been fitted into a JCB backhoe-loader and is currently undergoing testing.
JCB Chairman Lord Anthony Bamford told Diesel Progress: “We accept that the days of fossil fuels are numbered. However, we don’t believe that the only way to achieve zero carbon emissions is by the use of fuel-cells or batteries which are more costly and complex.
“We can use our existing, proven engine technology and existing supply base to ensure that internal combustion engines, powered by hydrogen, remain a key part of the drive to achieving zero carbon emissions.
“Hydrogen is a clean, renewable and transportable fuel capable of powering larger, heavier equipment.”
The company said there are several other advantages associated with hydrogen engines, including the fact that a hydrogen engine is approximately the same price as a diesel engine and that it can be implemented into traditional powertrains.
Also, there is no requirement for charging stations and, unlike electric and battery options, hydrogen engines do not require expensive electric motors, JCB added.
“There is much discussion about the merits of using battery and fuel cell technology in machinery,” said Tim Burnhope, JCB chief innovation and growth officer, however, “We believe that the use of hydrogen internal combustion engines will provide the quickest way to reach the target of zero carbon dioxide emissions, especially from high-use, high-energy equipment such as larger excavators, backhoes and loadalls.”
The 20-tonne 220X excavator, powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, has been undergoing testing at JCB’s quarry proving grounds for more than a year.