UK government grant awarded to decarbonise construction machinery

Global hydraulics and electric powertrain supplier Danfoss Power Solutions has secured a grant worth £407,112 from the UK government to accelerate the electrification of construction machinery. The UK Department of Energy and Business Skills awarded the grant as part of its Red Diesel Replacement competition, which aims to accelerate the transition to electric off-road vehicles such as excavators and wheel loaders.

Danfoss plans to combine electrification with its Digital Displacement® technology to significantly improve machine efficiency. Reducing energy consumption by up to 50%, the technology can significantly reduce the size of batteries needed to power machines and the amount of energy needed to recharge them.

Danfoss is already building a state-of-the-art £25million manufacturing, research and development facility in Edinburgh, Scotland, to commercialize its digital motion technology and Editron electric drives, which it says will transform the machinery industry of construction. Dubbed the Decarbonization Center, the facility will become operational next year.

“Our new factory in the UK will be an important hub for Danfoss’ decarbonisation programmes. This grant from the UK government recognizes the potential of our efforts and will help us realize our plans,” said Leif Bruhn, Head of Digital Displacement at Danfoss Power Solutions. “These funds will be used to accelerate the work we are doing to develop next-generation climate-friendly technologies in the areas of hydraulics, digitalization and electrification.”

“The International Energy Agency says 44% of Paris’ climate commitments can come from energy efficiency improvements, and Danfoss is meeting that challenge in construction machinery,” explained Niall Caldwell, Senior Director. R&D, Digital Displacement, Danfoss Power. Solutions. “The majority of large machinery still uses diesel engines, and we calculate that, worldwide, construction machinery emits around 400 megatons of carbon dioxide per year.”

“Electrifying construction equipment is not straightforward,” Caldwell continued. “For a large excavator, the daily power consumption is so high that the batteries required are equivalent to 10 typical electric car batteries, which could cost as much as the machine itself. The key, in our view, is efficiency.

Danfoss research has shown that up to 70% of an excavator’s energy is wasted in the hydraulic system between the engine and the work functions. The significant reduction in this energy loss allows future machines to use much smaller, and therefore cheaper, batteries.

Danfoss computer-controlled digital displacement technology can significantly improve system efficiency and reduce energy consumption. A paper presented by Danfoss at the International Fluid Power Conference (IFK), one of the world’s largest scientific conferences on hydraulic power, shows that digital displacement technology can already provide a lower capacity battery of 24, 8% to perform eight hours of typical operation.

“This new grant will accelerate technology developments to achieve a 50% improvement,” Bruhn said. “Our goal is to make electric off-road machines cheaper to own and operate than their diesel equivalents. This program will allow us to prove that the combination of better efficiency and electrification is the most effective way to reduce costs, improve performance and accelerate the adoption of off-road electric machines worldwide, which is what we all want to achieve,” he concluded.

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