Construction Equipment

Skanska tests hydrogen dual-fuel piling rig

Skanska's hydrogen dual-fuel Soilmec SR30 rotary and CFA piling rig
Cementation Skanska’s hydrogen dual-fuel Soilmec SR30 rotary and CFA piling rig

Cementation Skanska, the Building Research Establishment (BRE) and hydrogen fuel company ULEMCo are testing what they claim is the world’s first dual-fuel hydrogen and diesel piling machine.

Named ZECHER for ‘Zero Carbon Hydrogen Construction Equipment for Real-world use’, the project will provide a proof of concept for converting onsite construction equipment.

It involves the physical conversion of the rig, as well as exploring the viability of hydrogen fuel for construction site decarbonisation.

The team is carrying out the trial on a Soilmec SR30 rotary and CFA piling rig at Cementation Skanska’s plant and fabrication facility at Bentley Works, South Yorkshire.

The rig, with its Cummins QSB6.7 engine, is a medium-sized machine. Machines like this can typically use 100 litres of diesel a day of operation, leading to 262kg of CO2 emissions.

Improving air quality

ZECHER will use its 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 project can address the barriers of meeting the on-machine storage challenge of energy density.

CO2 savings

Amanda Lyne, managing director of ULEMCo, said: “ZECHER plans to show that conversion to dual-fuel will save up to 50% CO2 in this duty cycle, and we expect that it will provide additional emissions benefits such as reduction in NOx and particulates.

“The machines used in construction are owned and used for many years, so demonstrating a decarbonisation solution that utilises these existing assets is not only cost-effective but also important for sustainability.”   

Terry Muckian, managing director of Cementation Skanska, said: “We are exploring a range of innovations that will support us in decarbonising our operations, with a target of achieving net-zero carbon by 2045.

“Replacing diesel is key to achieving this target. We need solutions that will offer operational certainty and reliability, that will also set us on the pathway to full decarbonisation. We have already done this with HVO (hydro-treated vegetable oil), with all our plant fleet including piling rigs running on this fuel since the beginning of 2022. Exploring the role that hydrogen could play in our future operation is of strategic importance to us.”

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