ULEMCo, Cementation Skanska and the world-leading building science centre Building Research Establishment (BRE), are working together on a project that will produce and evaluate a dual-fuel hydrogen and diesel piling machine – a world first. It’s being backed by Government funding from Phase 1 of the Red Diesel Replacement programme, part of the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP) under the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Named ZECHER for ‘Zero Carbon Hydrogen Construction Equipment for Real-world use’, the project will provide a proof of concept for converting on-site construction equipment. It will deliver the physical conversion of the rig, as well as exploring the viability of hydrogen fuel for construction site decarbonisation.
The trial is being carried out on a Soilmec SR30 rotary and CFA piling rig at Cementation Skanska’s state of the art plant and fabrication facility at Bentley Works, south Yorkshire. The rig with its Cummins QSB6.7 engine, is a medium-sized rig used in construction. Machines like these can typically use 100 litres of diesel per day of operation, leading to 262 kg CO2 in emissions. Decarbonising such machines will support the construction sector on its journey to achieving net-zero carbon by 2050.
While transport applications of hydrogen fuel are becoming better known, use of hydrogen to reduce or eliminate emissions in the construction sector is less developed. The test will be undertaken on a piling rig, but ZECHER will use these findings to explore the opportunities for using hydrogen to reduce carbon and significantly improve air quality for a range of heavy-duty, non-road machinery typically used in the early stages of large infrastructure construction projects.
The project will examine the range of equipment used at a construction site, create detailed energy use and duty cycle data, and investigate the requirements and options for addressing the challenges of providing hydrogen at scale across the country. Given the high volumes involved, conversion to hydrogen dual-fuel will enable costs for green hydrogen to fall below that of white diesel, if the barriers of meeting the on-machine storage challenge of energy density are addressed.