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JCB makes advancement in hydrogen-based sustainable energy

By Brock Huffstutler

September 10, 2023

JCB Chairman Anthony Bamford

JCB Chairman Anthony Bamford

JCB, headquartered in North America in Savannah, Ga., has made what it described as a major breakthrough in proving the wider usage of hydrogen combustion technology.

The company said it has successfully installed one of its hydrogen engines into a Mercedes Sprinter van, marking an advancement in the utilization of sustainable energy for vehicles.

The van was retrofitted in two weeks and is the second Mercedes vehicle to be modified with a JCB hydrogen engine. Earlier this year, a 7.5-ton Mercedes truck was given the JCB hydrogen treatment. The internal combustion engine used in the van is the same as those already powering the JCB construction and agricultural prototype machines.

One of the first test drivers was JCB Chairman Anthony Bamford, who is leading the company’s 100 million hydrogen engine project.

“We retrofitted this vehicle with a JCB hydrogen engine to demonstrate how simple it will be to convert existing vans and to show that it is not only construction and agricultural machines that can be powered by hydrogen,” Bamford said. “While converting vans will not be for JCB to do, it does prove there is something else other than batteries that can work very effectively.”

JCB has already manufactured more than 70 hydrogen internal combustion engines in a project involving 150 British engineers. The hydrogen engines now power a prototype JCB backhoe loader and Loadall telescopic handler machines. The converted van was previously diesel-powered.

The company said the switch to hydrogen underlines that this form of power could represent a much quicker way to reach global carbon dioxide emissions targets and that hydrogen-powered vehicles can be refueled in a matter of minutes compared to several hours for recharging batteries.

JCB is the developer of the world’s first working hydrogen-powered construction and agricultural machines, the company said. Last year, JCB revealed what it called an industry first: a mobile hydrogen refueller, which provides a way to refuel machines on site. JCB’s hydrogen internal combustion engines are manufactured at JCB Power Systems in Derbyshire, U.K.