Who says electric powertrains are just for cars? We’ve heard about news on all-electric planes, garbage trucks, and even cargo ships. And now, we add one more type of vehicle to the list: Construction equipment!
Netherlands-based Pon Equipment converted a Caterpillar excavator to battery power. The company hopes this one-off project will serve as a template for future zero-emission construction equipment.
Every day, construction workers work inside and outside machines that spew out exhaust, and in this way degrade the air they breathe. With electric construction equipment, this will greatly improve the lives of many.
The electric excavator, dubbed Z-Line (for zero-emission), is based on a Caterpillar 323F. Pon replaced the diesel engine with a massive 300-kilowatt-hour battery pack, which is about three times the capacity of the largest Tesla model. The pack weighs 3.4 tons in total, compared to the one-ton weight of the original engine (the entire machine weighs about 26 tons). At least the battery pack provides enough juice for five to seven hours of operation, while a full charge takes one to two hours, according to Pon.
But first the machines will need to prove that they’re as effective on the construction site as their fossil-fuel-powered counterparts, and we should wait for the updates.
Construction equipment currently accounts for 30 percent of emissions in the capital city of Oslo, Pon noted. However, while electrification is expanding into new areas like commercial trucks and buses, little has been done in the area of construction equipment.
In 2017, Komatsu unveiled a massive electric dump truck called the e-Dumper, which featured a gigantic 600-kWh battery pack. Caterpillar has also invested in Fisker, which is developing solid-state batteries designed to outperform the lithium-ion batteries used in all current electric vehicles. But it may be a while before construction equipment goes electric on a large scale.
At the same time, we are confirmed that Caterpillar will come with smaller, electric machines in the time to come.