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On the Road to Zero

24 November 2020

On the Road to Zero

On the same day that Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his Ten Point Plan for a ‘green digital revolution’, JCB last week unveiled its latest machines and ancillary equipment embracing alternative fuel sources, under a ‘Road to Zero’ banner.

The announcements were made at JCB’s first ever virtual international press conference, a format introduced because of Covid-19 travel and meeting restrictions.

Amongst several particularly innovative launches is a 1-tonne electric site dumper. The 1TE has a steel skip, an articulated chassis and, instead of individual wheel motors, it incorporates conventional drive axles and a drop box for full-time, all-wheel drive.

A 7kW hydraulic motor delivers drive to the drop box, while a second hydraulic pump is used to power the machine’s standard hydraulic circuit, for steering and skip lift.

Power is supplied by two 5kWh lithium-ion batteries, said to be capable of providing a full day’s operation in normal use. The batteries can be recharged via 110V and 230V supplies.

The 1TE is pictured here with the existing JCB 19C-1E electric mini, which is now available with a fully glazed cab. This is the same cab as found on JCB’s conventional 1 to 2 tonne models. It incorporates an electric heater to provide a comfortable operating environment and to demist windows.

JCB says that, when operating the machine with the heater on, there is zero impact to the machine’s digging or tracking performance.

Both these compact electric machines have an on-board charger capable of recharging the battery in eight hours using a standard 240V, 16A electrical supply. However, JCB has now developed a new rapid Universal Charger, compatible with current and future electric models with electrical systems from 48V to 96V and above.

The unit can recharge the 19C-1E from zero to full charge in 2.5 hours. It requires a standard 415V three-phase electrical supply and comes with both four and five-pin connectors.

Also new is a range of battery power packs to drive machinery, for site lighting and security systems, or to act as a backup supply. They have four or eight automotive standard batteries giving 23kWh or 46kWh of storage capacity and 8kW/10kVA single phase output.

In addition, JCB is introducing its first electric telescopic handler. The 525-60E uses two electric motors, one for the driveline and the second to power the hydraulic system. The traction drive motor utilises regenerative braking, instead of a traditional braking system, topping up the battery in the process. The hydraulic system also regenerates flow whilst lowering the boom.

During a live - and very well-run - question and answer session, JCB’s chief innovation officer Tim Burnhope gave a brief insight into the manufacturer’s research into other alternative power sources for machinery, including ‘green’ hydrogen produced without burning fossil fuels.

He suggested that users might well choose in future from a range of power options to suit the nature of individual sites or tasks, and that 'clean' diesel could continue to represent a sensible choice for some markets and applications.

However, Tim Burnhope saw great potential for green hydrogen. Farms and other sites might in future have their own electrolysing systems to create hydrogen fuel from water, powered by solar panels or wind turbines, in tandem with backup battery power packs. This would represent a zero carbon power option.

Finally, in answering a question from Alan Guthrie OnHire about the likelihood of larger JCB electric minis coming on to the market in the future, Tim Burnhope said it was very much a case of ‘watch this space’.

The Road to Zero is obviously one well worth following.

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