JCB unveils its hydrogen powered excavator

Ryse Hydrogen and Wrightbus, run by Jo Bamford, and his father, chairman of JCB, Joseph Bamford recently unveiled their hydrogen powered excavator.  The father-son duo spent two years working on the design, and a further year testing the prototype. Upon manufacturing, this technology will allow JCB to lead the sector on zero and low-carbon technologies and continue Ryse Hydrogen’s push to kickstart the UK’s hydrogen market.

The 20-tonne JCB 220X excavator powered by a hydrogen fuel cell has been undergoing rigorous testing at JCB’s quarry proving grounds. JCB is arguably the first construction equipment company in the world to unveil a working prototype of an excavator powered by hydrogen. But the debate persists as to whether it truly is the world’s first; Volvo’s 2014 EX2 was equipped with a lithium ion battery as a main power source but the possibility to extend life through a secondary fuel cell was also deemed possible.

As seen traditionally with other applications of hydrogen powered fuel cells, JCB’s prototype excavator generates power by reacting hydrogen with oxygen in a fuel cell to create the energy needed to run electric motors. The only substance emitted is water, which doesn’t sound too bad does it?

“The development of the first hydrogen-fuelled excavator is very exciting as we strive towards a zero carbon world,” said Mr. Bamford. “In the coming months JCB will continue to develop and refine this technology with advanced testing of our prototype machine and we will continue to be at the forefront of technologies designed to build a zero carbon future.” Jo Bamford said that it was a game-changing addition to JCB’s fleet and a strong message for Britain’s green economy; which it sincerely is, since hydrogen allows for true zero emissions. “I grew up on the shop floor at JCB and have spent many years working on a prototype to help take our companies into the future,” he said. “I truly believe hydrogen is the UK’s best opportunity to build a world-leading industry which creates UK jobs, cuts emissions and is the envy of the globe.”

JCB has always been steadfast with constant innovation and design improvements, and has also been leading the way on clean diesel technology to meet Stage V EU emissions regulations, leading to a near complete eradication of the most harmful emissions from its latest range of diesel engines. Nitrous Oxide (NOx) is down 97%, soot particulates down by 98% and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions down by almost half.