Danfoss accelerates the decarbonisation of excavators

Zero-emission machinery supports the construction industry’s drive for lower costs and higher productivity says Jeff Herrin, SVP at Danfoss Power Solutions

Dating back to 1933, Danfoss Power Solutions (Danfoss) is a global hydraulics and electric powertrain systems supplier engineering solutions that increase machine productivity, reduce emissions, lower energy consumption, and enable electrification. The company’s solutions are used in such areas as refrigeration, air conditioning, heating, power conversion, motor control, industrial machinery, automotive, marine, off- and on-highway equipment, district-energy infrastructure for cities, solar and wind power.

Decarbonising the foundations of industry

Danfoss’ Dextreme systems work to decarbonise excavators. The newest technology in the group, Dextreme Max, is designed to cut excavator energy consumption by up to 50% by reducing energy losses and recovering energy that would otherwise be wasted. 

“Electrification offers a promising route to decarbonisation, but the immense power consumption of excavators means that expensive batteries and charging infrastructure are required. This cost is a major barrier to wider adoption of electric machines,” Leif Bruhn, Head of Digital Displacement, Danfoss Power Solutions, says.

“Excavators account for 50% of emissions from construction machinery, and hydraulic systems within excavators waste as much as 70% of the useful power delivered by the engine. By dramatically improving excavator energy efficiency, we can reduce the battery size and charging energy required to do the same amount of work. This will bring down costs, thus accelerating the transition to zero-carbon energy sources. The solution to a greener future in construction is efficiency. If we can prove it’s possible in excavators, we can conceivably accelerate the electrification of all large construction machinery.”

From January 2024, Danfoss plans to convert a 30 ton electric excavator at its Application Development Center in Nordborg, Denmark, before moving it for operation in the UK.

By improving excavator efficiency, the project will demonstrate that the Dextreme Max system can:

  • Reduce battery capacity requirement from 3 packs to 2 packs
  • Reduce electrical load on charging infrastructure
  • Lower overall capital and operating expenses compared to baseline electric machine
  • Lower total cost of ownership compared to diesel machine
  • Offer the same or better productivity and run time than baseline machines

Financing the future of energy

Danfoss Scotland, part of Danfoss Power Solutions, has been granted nearly £5m (approximately US$6.1m) from the UK Government’s Department for Energy Security & Net Zero, as part of The Red Diesel Replacement Competition.

The Red Diesel Replacement Competition, which is part of the £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, funded by the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero. 

The fund seeks to accelerate the commercialisation of low-carbon technologies to help enable the UK to end its contribution to climate change. 

“This project is an incredible opportunity to prove the efficacy of a new system solution and architecture, demonstrating that large-scale innovation is still possible in hydraulics. We’re grateful to the U.K. Government for its support,” says Jeff Herrin, Senior Vice President of Research, Development, and Engineering at Danfoss Power Solutions.

“In addition to the project’s stated goals, we intend to highlight how our application know-how and sustainable innovation is derisking the adoption of new technology and supporting our customers in their decarbonization journeys.”

The first phase of The Red Diesel Replacement Competition was for the development of component technologies — for which Danfoss received a £407,112 grant.

An integral component of the Dextreme Max system is the DDP1x0D, a Digital Displacement hydraulic pump that enables energy recovery from excavator motions such as slew deceleration and boom lowering. 

The energy recovery feature of the pump was developed as part of the Red Diesel Replacement Phase 1 Competition and proven at expected efficiency levels in a test rig. 

The second phase is for system integration and demonstration of low-carbon solutions. The £4.94m grant Danfoss received as part of Phase 2 represents 65% of the project cost — Danfoss will fund the remaining portion.

In Phase 2, Danfoss will integrate the DDP1x0D pump, an Editron electric drive, and other components required for the new system architecture into a battery-electric excavator.

“Transitioning to low- and zero-emission machinery isn’t just good for the environment; it can support the construction industry’s drive for lower costs and higher productivity.” comments Herrin.



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