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Thu September 23 2021

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Belgians convert excavator to dual-fuel hydrogen power

27 Aug A machinery dealer and a hydrogen power specialist have joined forces in Belgium to produce what they claim is the world’s first hydrogen-powered dual fuel excavator.

Jos Luyckx and Roy Campe with the dual fuel Hitachi ZX350LC-7 excavator
Jos Luyckx and Roy Campe with the dual fuel Hitachi ZX350LC-7 excavator

Belgian hydrogen power specialist CMB.Tech has converted a 37-tonne Hitachi ZX350LC-7 excavator to a dual fuel engine that can run on either hydrogen or diesel.

CMB.Tech has also developed a mobile hydrogen refueller that can deliver up to 600 kg of green hydrogen at 350 bar. This works for excavators, but also for other applications such as trucks, port equipment, ships and gensets, it says.

Other construction machinery manufacturers, including JCB, have developed protype hydrogen-powered excavators, but CMB.Tech claims that the dual fuel approach is a world-first, allowing the owner to use hydrogen where it is available and diesel where it is not.

Jos Luyckx, chief executive of machinery dealer Luyckx NV, who commissioned the conversion, said: “Driven by the wishes of our end users and fleet owners, we launched an own initiative feasibility study with regard to possible alternative solutions that help to reduce CO₂ emissions, make the machine park more sustainable and do business in a socially responsible way.

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"We have been looking for the right solutions for several years. The challenge was mainly in the area of energy requirements for heavy machinery. Given this vision, the collaboration with CMB.Tech was started in order to convert a 37-tonne excavator (Hitachi ZX350LC-7) to a dual fuel engine (hydrogen/diesel), thus taking a first concrete step towards greening the sector.”

CMB.Tech is the clean technology division of Compagnie Maritime Belge, a diversified shipping and logistics group based in Antwerp.

Chief technology officer Roy Campe said: “The additional cost of the machines in the sector is rather limited, with the kgs of hydrogen used leading directly to CO₂ reduction. As of today, we offer the applications to enable up to eight tonnes of CO₂ reduction per site per day, anywhere in the Benelux, without operational restrictions at the lowest possible cost.”

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