Liebherr launches R 9XX H2 crawler excavator with hydrogen engine and potential scaling up for mining

Posted by Paul Moore on October 24, 2022

At a time of climate change, which requires vast measures to protect the environment and in particular to reduce pollutant emissions, it is one of the missions of construction machinery manufacturers to develop low-emission solutions. Liebherr says it is also working on various drive alternatives in different product segments for the benefit of its customers, with an open approach to technology, to help reduce emissions. These include internal combustion engines that run on hydrogen.

At bauma 2022, Liebherr is presenting a crawler excavator developed by Liebherr-France SAS in Colmar, equipped with an integrated hydrogen combustion engine. The exhibited model of the installed H966 engine comes from Liebherr Machines Bulle SA in Switzerland.

The exposed crawler excavator’s H2 drive requires no permanent power supply and emits extremely low levels of NOx and CO2. Depending on the evaluation method used in each case, and if the entire life cycle of the machine is taken into account, the hydrogen thermal engine can reduce CO2 emissions by almost 100%, considering the “tank at the wheel” or 70%, considering the “cradle to grave” principle.

The first Liebherr hydrogen engine, the H966, is at the heart of the new R 9XX H2 excavator. It is an engine designed for both demonstration and field testing and is based on Intake Manifold Injection (also known as PFI) technology. “The results obtained show great potential in hydrogen propulsion and argue for the use of such drives also for off-road applications.”

The Liebherr H966 hydrogen engine

Today, the group is presenting its know-how and the first product resulting from it. In addition, the components division is working on other hydrogen-based drive technologies, such as direct H2 injection. “The latter allows for higher power density than the established H2 intake manifold injection and is therefore particularly suitable for heavy-duty applications in demanding working environments, such as the construction and mining industries.”

The R 9XX H2 “meets the highest quality standards like all crawler excavators from Liebherr-France SAS. Its design is based on the current and future generation 8 crawler excavators. With it, the R 9XX H2 shares the focus on more comfortable and efficient application. The excavator achieves the same overall performance as its diesel-powered counterpart, both in terms of power and engine dynamics and response. Suitable for extreme temperatures, shocks and dust-intensive site operations, the R 9XX H2, with its 50 t operating weight, can become an equally robust solution for earthmoving and quarrying applications at the future than conventionally powered Liebherr crawler excavators in the same class already are.

The only differences concern the refueling of the machines: fast and safe refueling is ensured by infrared communication between the excavator and the refueling station, where users benefit from the standardized high-speed protocol.

Henrik Weitze, project manager at Liebherr-France SAS, also points out: “The tests carried out in Colmar were extremely conclusive. This technology promises us many advantages in the future, especially in the most demanding applications.

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