JCB’s £100 million project to produce super-efficient hydrogen engines made its Asian debut when the company unveiled its hydrogen combustion technology (its first-ever trade show appearance anywhere in the world). The JCB 3DX hydrogen machine was unveiled alongside the JCB hydrogen combustion engine. Developed in response to the urgent need to meet carbon emissions reduction targets, this industry-leading development is a key milestone on the path to decarbonising the construction sector in India.

The JCB 3DX hydrogen machine

JCB India’s CEO and Managing Director, Deepak Shetty, and also Chairman of CRI Infrastructure Council, said: “It is very fitting that this JCB 3DX backhoe loader, powered by a hydrogen combustion engine, is being publicly unveiled in India just as COP28, the UN Climate Change Conference draws to a close in Dubai, UAE. As the world has been assessing its collective progress towards achieving its climate goals, JCB is showing the world that it has a practical and affordable technology already in place to decarbonise construction, here in India and across the world. We are proud that India is the first nation in the world to show this prototype backhoe loader machine at a renowned trade event like Excon.”

He added, “We were very honoured by the Hon. Minister of Roads and Transport Shri Nitin Gadkari for inaugurating the hydrogen technology at our booth in Excon. India is making concerted efforts towards making hydrogen our zero-carbon fuel of the future. The National Hydrogen Mission is creating the conditions for a hydrogen ecosystem, which is essential for making a success of this cutting-edge hydrogen combustion technology. JCB India is proud to have taken the lead in introducing this technology to construction equipment in India.”

The JCB 3DX hydrogen machine
Shetty informed that a team of 150 JCB engineers is working on the pioneering initiative to develop hydrogen combustion engines, and more than 75 prototypes have already been manufactured. The prototype JCB hydrogen engines are already powering backhoe loader and Loadall telescopic handler machines.

“JCB Chairman Lord Bamford had earlier said tht India has a real opportunity to put hydrogen at the very centre of its net zero future. It is a clean zero carbon fuel which can be produced from renewable energy. India is endowed with sun and water resources, the two key elements required for producing hydrogen.”

“Fossil fuels are not the future. The unique combustion properties of hydrogen enable the hydrogen engine to deliver the same power, the same torque, and the same efficiency that powers JCB machines today, but in a zero-carbon way. Hydrogen combustion engines also offer other significant benefits - by leveraging diesel engine technology and components, they do not require rare earth elements, and, critically, combustion technology is already well proven on construction equipment. It is a technology which is cost-effective, robust, reliable, and well known not just in the construction sector, but across the world.”

“It’s only a matter of time before hydrogen becomes readily available in India for a variety of applications. The transition from diesel to hydrogen will be much faster than what we think, and JCB India will be ready,” said Shetty. “Our hydrogen combustion technology is already well-developed; many machines are currently undergoing tests. There is no doubt that we are witnessing the beginning of an exciting zero-carbon future in India’s earthmoving sector.”

The JCB 3DX hydrogen machine
Shetty informed that Lord Bamford has invested more than a thousand crores in developing this technology and teams across the world are working closely together to further develop it and provide solutions that customers want. “Decarbonization is a responsibility at JCB. Ove the last 10 years, we have improved the fuel efficiency of our machines by almost 45%. We are looking at providing more and more sustainable solutions - not just by way of products, but also in our manufacturing. Our factories across India use solar power and we are zero landfill facilities.”

“No doubt hydrogen is the future, but this doesn’t mean that we are ignoring R&D on diesel or other fuels available in the market. JCB’s drive to reduce fuel consumption means that its diesel-powered machines use 50% less fuel on average today than those manufactured more than a decade. By bringing greater fuel efficiency in all our new products, the TCO is going down; it is also going down per hour because of higher productivity and the lower maintenance costs. So, we are putting more money back into the pocket of the customer. All our products are solution-based.”

“As regards electric machines, we are launching the whole range of electric scissors and have already introduced the electric mini excavator. Today, more than 20,000 JCB electric machines are being used globally.”

Talking about JCB’s wide range showcased at their outdoor pavilion, Sandeep Kalra, Executive Vice President - Sales and Marketing, informed that the company has supplied more than 400,000 backhoes to customers, 70% of whom are first-time buyers, who start their entrepreneurial journey with backhoes.

The JCB 3DX hydrogen machine
“We have an entire range to meet different applications and customer requirements, from our PDX to the 4DX, and the most popular 3DX, which comprises close to 80% of this product segment. The 3DX extra comes with a Servo control for ease of operations and Hydro control which comes with a semi-automatic kickdown feature. Our excavators range from the 8-ton to the 38-ton; they are designed for specific applications and have the IntelliControl feature for enhancing machine performance.

“We also have the longest service intervals in the industry, whether it's for engine oil filters or hydraulic oil filters so that customers waste less time on maintenance, and their cost of ownership comes down.”

“Looking at the investments being made by the government in constructing highways, especially those with many tunnels, as in the hilly regions of the Northeast, North India, and Uttarakhand, we have developed the JCB NXT210 Tunnel Master – a 21-ton hydraulic excavator powered by a 140hp Cummins engine. As market leaders in wheel loaders, we offer a full range from 3 to 5 tons. Here too, we have made the machines 10% more fuel efficient, with 5-8% higher productivity.”

“Our soil compactor is a very innovative product; it is powered by a 55-kw engine unlike competing machines that are powered by a 78 kw engine, plus, they enjoy 10% more fuel efficiency to deliver the same compaction.

Our new 18-meter telehandler powered by a 55-kw JCB engine can lift four tons of payload and has a lift height of 17.5 per meter. It can be fitted with various attachments and comes with a four-wheel steer and a four-wheel drive and offers excellent visibility.

The JCB 3DX hydrogen machine
“Our newly launched articulated boom crane and scissor lift have been designed and made at our Jaipur facility to offer optimum safety at the workplace. We are the only domestic manufacturer and supplier of these booms and scissors, which we are exporting to the US and Europe. Our articulated boom 45E with a 45-foot work cut comes with LiveLink which again makes us a leader as regards safety. We are also offering Gensets fitted with a 4.4-liter JCB engine, and being very compact, can be used in urban spaces. They are EMC-compliant and come with Live Link.”

Tim Burnhope, Group Director - Special Projects (and the person behind the hydrogen program), said, “The future is really exciting and everybody wants to talk about sustainability and a net zero carbon future. While some people worry about it, we spend our time fixing it. India’s infra development over the coming years is going to be sensational, but we cannot make infrastructure without great machines. At JCB, we've got a product for every sector, and we're determined to help build the infrastructure of India as fast as we can and in the most efficient way.”

“We need a new fuel in the future, which is zero carbon, and the answer is hydrogen. So, we produced an all-new highly combustion engine that uses hydrogen. Hydrogen has three times the energy of diesel so you can combust hydrogen in much lower temperatures and in much lower pressure. With this zero-carbon dioxide fuel, the engine emits clean steam. Fueling is a lot easier with just a couple of fueling pipes that can be clipped on and there is no spillage or smell since the gas can be vented very safely.”

The JCB 3DX hydrogen machine

“We've done 25,000 hours of testing and have driven these machines for over 15,000 miles on roads. As Steve Jobs said, people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the only ones that do.”

He added, “Over the last 10 years, we have created super-efficient machines. We've shown that small machines can also use batteries. They are affordable and can work in cities and produce only 5-7% of the CO2. But we need to work on more products. The billion-dollar infrastructure work in remote sites requires a mobile, zero carbon fuel like hydrogen and JCB has proven its viability. We are making 400 to 500 engines a day, and as a global company, our plan is to manufacture half of this quantity in Europe and the other half in India since hydro combustion will be a big part of our manufacturing process in India, going forward.”

Tim Burnhope informed, “We will see more efficient and intelligent machines in the future and JCB will be very clever with technology. We'll make the machines easier to operate with sensors and electronics, and AI for machining and self-understanding. The technology we're using in India today is pretty much the same technology being used elsewhere in the world. This includes our engines. We believe that India will lead the world in many of these areas and I see a lot of opportunities, going forward.”
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