Hydrogen fuel innovator ULEMCo, Cementation Skanska, and science centre Building Research Establishment (BRE), are collaborating on a project to produce and evaluate a dual fuel hydrogen and diesel piling rig.

The Zero Carbon Hydrogen Construction for Real-world Use (ZECHER) project hopes to explore the viability of decarbonising construction sites with hydrogen fuel and seeks to provide proof of concept for converting on-site construction equipment.

Testing on a Soilmec SR30 Rotary and CFA piling rig at Cementation Skanska plant and fabrication facility at Bentley Works, South Yorkshire, hopes to convert the rig’s Cummins QSB6.7 engine.

ULEMCo have said machines of this type typically use 100 litres of diesel per day, producing 262kg of carbon dioxide emissions. It is hoped decarbonising such machines will support the construction sector in achieving Net Zero goals by 2050.

It is also hoped that converting heavy construction machinery to hydrogen dual fuel will also enable the cost of green hydrogen to fall below that of white diesel.

The trial comes after the UK Government banned red diesel (low tax rate diesel) from being used in the construction industry from April 1, 2022.

Amanda Lyne, Managing Director of ULEMCo, said, “ZECHER plans to show that conversion to dual fuel will save up to 50% carbon dioxide in this duty cycle, and we expect that it will provide additional emissions benefits such as reduction in nitrogen-oxides and particulates.

“The machines used in construction are owned and used for many years, so demonstrating a decarbonisation solution that utilises these existing assets is not only cost-effective but also important for sustainability.”

ZECHER has been backed by UK Government Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy funding from Phase 1 of the Red Diesel Replacement programme as part of the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP).

Terry Muckain, Managing Director of Cementation Skanska, explained, “We are exploring a range of innovations that will support us in decarbonising our operations, with a target of achieving Net Zero carbon by 2045.

“Replacing diesel is key to achieving this target. We need solutions that will offer operational certainty and reliability, that will also set us on the pathway to full decarbonisation. Exploring the role that hydrogen could play in our future operation is of strategic importance to us.”

Ranjit Bassi, Senior Consultant at BRE, said, “The UK construction sector uses around one billion litres of fuel annually, generating about 2.7m tonnes of carbon dioxide and therefore finding ways to decarbonise the sector is critical to delivering the UK’s targets for Net Zero.

“BRE’s role in the project is to look across the sector and to help accelerate the transition to clean fuels. Hydrogen looks to be one of the only currently viable routes to doing this in the available timescale.”


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