• Domenico Traverso.
    Domenico Traverso.

Immediate attention needs to be given to reducing carbon emissions from heavy machinery such as construction vehicles to reach global climate goals, according to the latest whitepaper from Danfoss.

The whitepaper was launched at the World Congress of Architects in Copenhagen by the Danfoss president of Editron and Incubation, Domenico Traverso.

Cities account for 70 per cent of global carbon emissions. Ultimately, the battle against climate change will be won – or lost – in cities,” he said.

“Construction machines worldwide emit a staggering 400MT of CO2 annually, which is equivalent to the emissions from international aviation.

“Excavators alone account for 50 per cent of these emissions. 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.”

Traverso said 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,” he said.

“Furthermore, many excavator work sites 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 arise due to the immense weight of the batteries, posing logistical hurdles.”

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

He also warned the construction sector is very cost sensitive, which means decarbonising in the most effective way.

“Otherwise it will not happen at scale, this is where efficiency becomes a key enabler,” Traverso said. 

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

Today's excavator systems operate on diesel at a mere 30 per cent efficiency, with 70 per cent of engine energy being wasted.

The whitepaper emphasises 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 per cent,” the whitepaper explained.

“The rapidly evolving technology can deliver fuel savings of 15-30 per cent in excavators over 15 tonnes while simultaneously increasing their work capacity. In the near future, these measures can be applied to excavators of all sizes, potentially achieving fuel savings of up to 50 per cent.

“By prioritising energy efficiency and exploring electrification possibilities, the industry will contribute significantly to the decarbonization of heavy-duty vehicles and pave the way for a sustainable future.”