Hyundai at forefront of project to develop hydrogen fuel excavators

HYUNDAI Construction Equipment has teamed up with Hyundai Motor Group to develop what the firm describes as the world’s first hydrogen-powered construction equipment.

Last February, Hyundai Construction Equipment signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the joint development of hydrogen fuel cell construction equipment with Hyundai Motors and Hyundai Mobis. Together, the three companies will look to develop hydrogen-powered forklifts and medium/large-capacity, hydrogen-powered excavators, over the next few years.

According to the MOU, Hyundai Motors and Hyundai Mobis will design and manufacture hydrogen fuel cell systems, including power packs, while Hyundai Construction Equipment will design, manufacture, and evaluate the performance of excavators and forklifts. The target date for mass production and distribution has been set as 2023.

Hyundai explained that, unlike conventional diesel engine-based equipment, hydrogen-based electric construction equipment uses electricity produced through the chemical reactions between hydrogen and oxygen as its power source, meaning no emissions of toxic gases into the air.

The project has been tipped to help satisfy demand for more eco-friendly equipment.

Hyundai added that, compared to lithium batteries, hydrogen fuel cells are ‘much easier to expand’, making them a more ‘logical choice’ for large forklifts or excavators.

Hwang Jong-hyun, head of the R&D division for Hyundai material handling at Hyundai Construction Equipment said, “With this latest agreement, we’ve prepared a foundation upon which we can secure core technology in hydrogen-powered construction equipment ahead of our competitors. Hyundai Construction Equipment will do its very best to meet the challenges that lie ahead as countries around the world attempt to establish global standards in terms of certifying the performance of equipment and legislating relevant laws for the commercialisation of hydrogen-powered construction equipment, and play a leading role in the market moving forward.”