“World-first” hydrogen equipment trial begins

A “world-first” project is taking place to reduce the amount of diesel used by on-site equipment.

Hydrogen fuel pioneers ULEMCo and science centre Building Research Equipment (BRE) will produce a “dual-fuel hydrogen and diesel piling machine”. Skanska is also taking part in the initiative. 

Named ZECHER (Zero Carbon Hydrogen Construction Equipment for Real world use), this is one of 17 projects funded by the government’s red diesel rebate and net zero targets. 

It would also reduce the need for white diesel, which some construction projects have relied on following red diesel’s replacement programme. 

Hydrogen fuel’s applications to transport are well known, but this is a big step to develop it in the construction industry as well. 

The test will take place on a piling rig, and the findings will shape future opportunities for using hydrogen to reduce carbon. It also aims to assess how to significantly improve air quality for a range of heavy-duty, non-road machinery used in large infrastructure projects.

Skanska has said that replacing diesel was key to achieve environmental targets by 2045, and since the beginning of the year have run their plant fleet with HVO (hydro-treated vegetable oil). 

This is a huge development for the sector, and this funding from the government for the new projects has helped with the transition away from red diesel to more eco-friendly alternatives. This also lines up with World Environment Day and National Clean Air Day, which both take place in June.

It won’t be a completely smooth transition, but it will investigate the requirements and options for addressing the challenges of providing hydrogen at scale across the country.

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