Construction News

Wed December 01 2021

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JCB promises hydrogen diggers by end of 2022

19 Oct JCB has revealed that it is investing £100m on a project to produce hydrogen combustion engines.

The prime minister pretends to fill the tank of JCB's prototype hydrogen-powered backhoe loader
The prime minister pretends to fill the tank of JCB's prototype hydrogen-powered backhoe loader

First JCB machines powered by hydrogen are expected to go on sale by the end of 2022.

JCB has a team of 100 working on the development and is recruiting a further 50 engineers.

A prototype hydrogen powered JCB backhoe loader and a Loadall telescopic handler were unveiled at a central London event attended by prime minister Boris Johnson. They have internal combustion engines powered by hydrogen fuel rather than hydrogen fuel cell batteries that other machinery manufacturers are pioneering.

JCB chairman Lord Bamford said: “Our sort of machinery will need to be powered by something other than fossil fuels. We make machines which are powered by diesel so we have to find a solution and we are doing something about it now.  We are investing in hydrogen as we don’t see electric being the all-round solution, particularly not for our industry because it can only be used to power smaller machines. It does mean we will carry on making engines, but they will be super-efficient, affordable, high-tech hydrogen motors with zero CO2 emissions, which can be brought to market quickly using our existing supply base. These will be our industry’s first hydrogen engines, developed in Great Britain by British engineers. Hydrogen motors have the potential to help the UK reach CO2 emissions targets more quickly.”

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The prototype hydrogen-fuelled Loadall
The prototype hydrogen-fuelled Loadall

Jo Bamford, one of Lord Bamford’s sons, owns a company that produces hydrogen, Ryze. He also owns Wrightbus, which makes hydrogen-powered buses for London. Buta Atwal, chief executive of Ryze Hydrogen (and previously managing director of JCB Heavy Products), told the Re:Construction podcast in August (Ep.76) that we could expected to see hydrogen-powered construction machinery becoming mainstream on UK construction sites within two to five years,

JCB’s hydrogen technology will be on show at an exhibition accompanying the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow at the end of this month.

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