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(VIDEO) Danfoss white paper highlights need to decarbonize construction machinery

A Volvo CE EC200 utilizing Danfoss' Dextreme system Volvo CE, Danfoss

Danfoss has released a new white paper that details the need to decarbonize construction machinery. The white paper says that the construction industry needs to pay immediate attention to the possibilities of reducing carbon emissions from heavy vehicles to reach global climate goals.

The whitepaper says that construction machines worldwide emit 400 megatonnes of C02 emissions, the equivalent of the emissions from international aviation, with 50 percent of these emissions coming from excavators alone.

Domenico Traverso, president of the Editron and Incubation Division at Danfoss, says the key to reducing the footprint of these machines is to implement energy-efficient technologies that can immediately reduce the diesel use in excavators and at the same time address some of the challenges for electrification.

Cities account for 70 percent of global carbon emissions. These cities will be where battling climate change will be won or lost. While passenger cars and smaller construction machines can more easily be made battery-electric and charged with renewable energy, the reality is more complex for excavators and other heavy-duty vehicles.

Compared to smaller vehicles, excavators operate under much more demanding conditions and require longer working hours between charges. This requires extremely large batteries to match the productivity of their diesel counterparts, resulting in resource-intensive production and higher upfront costs. Often, it is simply neither technologically nor economically feasible for heavy machines.

Many excavator work sites also lack the necessary charging infrastructure to support electric excavators. Large sites such as quarries often require field battery-swapping at the beginning and end of each shift and subsequent charging at depots. Operational challenges and logistical hurdles arise due to the immense weight of the batteries.

By improving efficiency, the requirement for batteries can be reduced along with charging power demands and renewable energy generation needs. 

"As an industry, we must take responsibility for the climate challenges, and we must be more vocal about the technological opportunities and solutions," says Traverso. "The construction sector is very cost-sensitive, and we need to decarbonize in the most cost-effective way. Otherwise, it will not happen at scale. And this is where efficiency becomes a key enabler."

The Danfoss Impact whitepaper investigates the case of construction sites and the readily available technologies that are transforming the construction industry, making low-emission construction sites achievable. 

Excavator systems operate on diesel at a mere 30 percent efficiency, with 70 percent of engine energy being wasted. Danfoss emphasizes the significant potential for energy reduction by introducing measures such as variable displacement pumps, digital displacement, variable speed pumps, and decentralized drives. These technologies, along with energy recovery systems, can enhance efficiency and reduce energy consumption.

Implementing energy efficiency measures enables excavators to accomplish more work with smaller engines and less fuel, reducing the battery capacity required for electrification by up to 24.8 percent. The evolving technology can deliver fuel savings of 15 to 30 percent in excavators over 15 tons while simultaneously increasing their work capacity.

Prioritizing energy efficiency and exploring electrification possibilities will contribute significantly to the decarbonization of heavy-duty vehicles.

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