Hyundai leads the market in hydrogen technology

Hyundai Construction Equipment will show the HW155H concept wheeled excavator at the Bauma 2022 exhibition, offering a vision of future power system technology. The machine is equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell, providing the electrical power to operate the machine with zero tailpipe emissions. Hyundai is no newcomer to the hydrogen market though, Hyundai Motors has offered the hydrogen-powered ix35 and more recently the Nexo passenger car for more than four years and is trialling XCIENT fuel cell-powered heavy trucks in Germany. A Nexo hydrogen car, powered by proven hydrogen fuel cell technology, will sit alongside the wheeled excavator on the Bauma stand, demonstrating the company’s commitment and expertise in this future fuel...

Clean Power

Hyundai Construction Equipment has been developing a hydrogen fuel cell-powered driveline since 2020, when it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hyundai Motors and with specialist division Hyundai Mobis, at its Mabuk Research Centre in Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do. Together, the three companies have committed to develop hydrogen fuel cells to power forklifts and medium/large excavators over the coming years.

Unlike a diesel-powered wheeled excavator, the hydrogen machine has a fuel cell mounted in the rear of the upperstructure. The fuel cell relies on a chemical reaction between the stored hydrogen and oxygen that is present in the air. The fuel cell stack generates electrical energy from this reaction, with an inverter converting this energy into usable electrical power. This is used to drive the hydraulic pump, to power the machine in the normal way.

The only emission from the fuel cell stack is water, a combination of the hydrogen and oxygen. When that hydrogen is produced using renewable energy, such as off-shore wind, this creates an incredibly low carbon powertrain. For the excavator, the hydrogen is stored on the right-hand side of the machine, opposite the operator’s cab, in high-pressure tanks.

This proven technology is already in use in the Nexo fuel cell passenger car. The car uses Hyundai Motors’ second-generation fuel cell, which is smaller, lighter and stronger than the original seen in the ix35 car. This highly productive fuel cell delivers a world-beating system efficiency of 60%, with a fuel consumption of 0.95kg of H2 per 100km driven, providing the Nexo with a driving range of up to 666km (WLTP), better than any other fuel cell powered car. Yet, refuelling takes a matter of minutes, rather than the hours required to recharge a full battery electric vehicle.

This transfer of technology to the construction equipment market will provide HCE (Hyundai Construction Equipment) with a ground-breaking wheeled excavator package, delivering all of the power and performance that a contractor requires, with zero on-site emissions and the ability to refuel from a hydrogen station in minutes, even in the most remote of locations.

“The development of the first excavator powered by hydrogen is very exciting, as we work towards a carbon-free world,” said Gert Peeters, product manager at Hyundai CE Europe.

“Over the coming months, HCE will continue to develop and further refine this technology and thereby pursue our goal to lead the transition into a zero-carbon future. While great progress has already been made in the development of electric vehicle technology, there is a risk that we overlook hydrogen as a practical, immediate solution to reduce emissions and improve air quality.

“Our projections show that fuel-powered vehicles will be more cost-effective than battery-electric or diesel-powered vehicles in the future. We at Hyundai Construction Equipment are convinced that hydrogen will be at the forefront of renewable energies in the long term. We want to exploit this potential and make it available to users in practice-oriented solutions.”

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