On-Site Magazine

JCB introduces prototype hydrogen engines

By Adam Freill   

Construction Equipment Equipment Technology Green Construction

Manufacturer unveiled its hydrogen combustion engine for construction and agricultural equipment at this year’s CONEXPO show in Las Vegas.

(Photo courtesy of JCB)

JCB provided the world with a first look at its project to produce super-efficient hydrogen engines during the 2023 edition of CONEXPO. The company showcased prototype engines and machines making use of the carbon-neutral fuel at the Las Vegas trade show. More than 50 JCB hydrogen combustion engine prototypes have already been manufactured at the company’s U.K. engine plant.

“The JCB engineering team has made enormous strides in a short space of time to develop a hydrogen internal combustion engine,” stated JCB chairman, Anthony Bamford, who is leading the project to develop the technology. “As the first construction equipment company to develop a fully working combustion engine fuelled by hydrogen, I’m delighted we are now able to present this technology on the international stage.”

Prototype engines are already powering backhoe loader and Loadall telescopic handler machines, and JCB has also taken a wider approach by retrofitting one of its hydrogen engines into a 7.5-ton Mercedes truck.

Also at the show, JCB unveiled its mobile refueller designed to take the fuel to the machines. The unit has enough hydrogen gas to fill 16 hydrogen backhoe loaders and can be transported either on the back of a modified JCB Fastrac tractor or on a trailer.


“It makes perfect sense to use hydrogen… it is a clean zero-carbon fuel which can be produced from renewable energy,” added Bamford. “Hydrogen also offers a potential solution to the challenge of batteries on larger machines; it allows for fast refuelling and is a mobile fuel solution, allowing fuel to be taken to the machine.”

A team of 150 engineers is working on the pioneering initiative to develop hydrogen combustion engines as a zero-carbon emissions solution for construction and agricultural equipment.

“The unique combustion properties of hydrogen enable the hydrogen engine to deliver the same power, torque and efficiency that powers JCB machines today, but in a zero-carbon way,” he explained. “Hydrogen combustion engines also offer other significant benefits… they do not require rare earth elements and critically, combustion technology is already well proven on construction and agricultural equipment.”




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