Huyndai Construction Equipment bets on hydrogen

Among the 23 machines that Hyundai Construction Equipment (HCE) will present at Bauma next October, the one that is sure to attract attention is the prototype of the 14t excavator powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, the HW155H. A technology that makes it easier to increase the capacity of machines and therefore better suited to heavy-caliber construction machinery than electric, according to the South Korean manufacturer. HCE is thus fully embarking on the hydrogen adventure and intends to take a step ahead. But faced with the still very high costs of this type of solution, the gamble may seem risky.

As a technical reminder, the fuel cell, mounted at the rear of the machine in high-pressure tanks, opposite the operator’s cabin, generates electrical energy which powers the hydraulic pump driven by a electric motor. This electricity is produced by chemical reaction between the stored hydrogen and the oxygen naturally present in the air. And when it comes out, the HW155H emits only water while enjoying an autonomy of 8 hours with a record charging time of 20 minutes. A technology that the manufacturer has already tested with hydrogen trucks created from hydraulic energy or renewable energies. An innovation that is part of the manufacturer’s roadmap dedicated to the zero-emission construction sites of the future.

Infrastructure to be developed

“It’s a revolutionary machine,” enthuses Peter Sebold, Hyundai product manager. And we are responsible for putting in place the infrastructures necessary for the deployment of hydrogen. » And that’s the rub. Because if these technologies are now known and mature, they remain at the embryonic stage. Everything has to be built and invented to develop the network across all territories. “We carry this innovation and the responsibility of supporting populations and participating in the evolution of professions and mentalities”, assures Peter Sebold.

The adventure began in 2020, with the development of a transmission powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, after the signing of a memorandum of understanding between HCE, Hyundai Motors and Hyundai Mobis, in its research center in Mabuk . The three companies have pledged to develop a hydrogen fuel cell to power electric forklifts and mid- to heavy-duty excavators over the next few years. “A challenge” that HCE aims to take up, convinced that “hydrogen will establish itself as a major renewable energy”. And in addition to these partnerships, which bring together complementary skills and make it possible to provide the necessary funding for research and development, “it is essential to maintain a good network of dealers”, explains Peter Sebold, who cannot imagine deployment possible without assistance to these valuable actors. Also, with a focus on innovation and research, HCE intends to stand out at Bauma by offering “a mix of mastered technologies and visionary choices”.

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