A father and son from Britain’s best-known construction family have joined forces to create the world’s first hydrogen excavator.
JCB chairman Lord Bamford and his son Jo Bamford, who runs Ryse Hydrogen and Ballymena bus firm Wrightbus, have spent two years working on the construction industry’s first hydrogen-powered excavator and a further year testing the prototype.
According to JCB, this ‘world-first’ will enable the firm to continue leading the sector on zero and low-carbon technologies and continue Ryse Hydrogen’s push to kick-start the UK’s hydrogen economy.
The 20t 220X excavator powered by a hydrogen fuel cell has been undergoing rigorous testing at JCB’s quarry proving grounds.
Lord Bamford said: “The development of the first hydrogen-fuelled excavator is very exciting as we strive towards a zero carbon world.
“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, who bought Wrightbus out of administration, said it was a ‘game-changing’ addition to JCB’s fleet and a strong message for Britain’s green economy.
“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.”
Power for JCB’s prototype excavator is generated by reacting hydrogen with oxygen in a fuel cell to create the energy needed to run electric motors. The only emission from the exhaust is water.
The development comes after JCB made manufacturing history last year by going into full production with the construction industry’s first fully electric mini excavator, the 19C-1E.
JCB has also extended electric technology to its innovative Teletruk telescopic forklift range with the launch of an electric model, the JCB 30-19E.
JCB also claims to have led the way on clean diesel technology to meet Stage V EU emissions regulations and to have “almost eradicated the most harmful emissions from its latest range of diesel engines”. NOx is down 97%, soot particulate matter is down by 98% and CO2 emissions down by almost half, the company said.