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Liebherr premieres first large hydrogen wheel loader

By Adam Freill   

Construction Equipment Green Construction

Continuing its path away from fossil fuels, Liebherr has unveiled its first prototype large wheel loader with a hydrogen engine.

Leibherr’s prototype large wheel loader with hydrogen engine is demonstrated in practical use. (Photo courtesy of Liebherr)

Liebherr has unveiled what it says is the world’s first large wheel loader with a hydrogen engine. The reveal of its prototype machine took place at the company’s plant in Bischofshofen, Austria, during a trade event where the hydrogen wheel loader was demonstrated for the first time in practical use.

At the same time, the first hydrogen filling station in the state of Salzburg was inaugurated, which the company says represents an important milestone in the use of hydrogen as a sustainable energy source.

“To make progress in hydrogen research, we need to have access to hydrogen,” explained Herbert Pfab, chief technical officer of Liebherr Bischofshofen. “We built this filling station to further advance our goals for decarbonising construction machinery.”

The L 566 H prototype large wheel loader, which is outfitted with a hydrogen engine, was developed after studies that led to the company identifying hydrogen as the optimal solution for operating large vehicles that are difficult to electrify without CO2 emissions.

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For smaller vehicles up to about 15 tons, battery-electric solutions are often suitable, says the manufacturer, adding that the situation is different with larger machines with an operating weight of up to 40 tons and high energy requirements. It found that hydrogen reciprocating piston engines proved to be ideal for these larger machines, and their energy needs.

The engines used in the prototype are manufactured at the engine plant of Liebherr’s Components product segment in Bulle, Switzerland. They are engineered to be highly efficient, while producing zero emission of greenhouse gases and almost no nitrogen oxides. Thermally and mechanically, the interfaces are comparable to those of a diesel engine, which is also a plus on the road toward the development of sustainable large-scale machinery.

As part of the development of the hydrogen wheel loader, Liebherr Bischofshofen opened its own hydrogen filling station – the first of its kind in the entire state of Salzburg. The company worked with strategic partner Maximator Hydrogen, which manufactured the filling station, and also serves as a research partner of Liebherr. Together, they are working on mobile filling facilities so that machinery can be refuelled directly at construction sites. Also factoring into the project was MPREIS, a supplier of green hydrogen.

www.liebherr.com

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