JCB makes history again with world’s first hydrogen digger

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Digger-giant JCB has made history again – with the development of the world’s first hydrogen digger.

Lord Bamford and his son Jo Bamford have teamed up to create the industry’s first ever hydrogen-powered excavator.

The 20-tonne 220X excavator was in development for 12 months and underwent rigorous testing at JCB’s quarry proving grounds for a further year.

Now JCB is the first construction equipment company in the world to unveil a working prototype of an excavator powered by hydrogen.

JCB Chairman Lord Bamford said: “The development of the first hydrogen fuelled excavator is very exciting as we strive towards a zero carbon world. In the coming months, JCB will continue to develop and refine this technology with advanced testing of our prototype machine and we will continue to be at the forefront of technologies designed to build a zero carbon future.”

The prototype 20-tonne JCB 220X excavator powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.

Lord Bamford’s son, Jo, spent 14 years at JCB before moving into the hydrogen sector, setting up Ryse Hydrogen and then buying Northern Ireland bus-giant Wrightbus.

He has won contracts to supply the world’s first hydrogen double-decker to cities such as London and Aberdeen and recently revealed his £500 million vision for a UK-built, 3,000-strong bus fleet across the country to aid the nation’s recovery from coronavirus.

Jo – who also sits on board at JCB – added: “I grew up on the shop floor at JCB and have spent many years working on a prototype to help take our companies into the future. I truly believe hydrogen is the UK’s best opportunity to build a world-leading industry which creates UK jobs, cuts emissions and is the envy of the globe.”

Power for JCB’s prototype excavator is generated by reacting hydrogen with oxygen in a fuel cell to create the energy needed to run electric motors. The only emission from the exhaust is water.

This ‘world first’ will enable JCB to continue leading the sector on zero and low-carbon technologies and continue Ryse Hydrogen’s push to kickstart the UK’s hydrogen economy.

The development comes after JCB made manufacturing history last year by going into full production with the construction industry’s first fully electric mini excavator, the 19C-1E.

JCB has since extended electric technology to its innovative Teletruk telescopic forklift range with the launch of an electric model, the JCB 30-19E.


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