HS2 trials world’s first hydrogen dual-fuel piling rig on London site

carbon emissions, HS2, hydrogen, Skanska, UK, ULEMCo,


ULEMCo and Cementation Skanska have brought hydrogen dual-fuel to install piles on a London site for HS2, cutting the use of tradition fuel by 36%.

HS2 has taken a further step forward in decarbonising the construction sector, completing a world first by installing four 30-metre deep piles on a London site using a hydrogen dual-fuel piling rig.

The trial took place as part of work done in partnership with ULEMCo and Cementation Skanska, working with the world-leading Business Research Establishment (BRE), funded through the BEIS Phase 1 Red Diesel Replacement competition.

ULEMCo and Cementation Skanska successfully modified a medium-sized CFA piling rig, converting it so that the machine component operated using energy from onboard hydrogen tanks. Using the dual-fuel system, both diesel and biofuels (HVO) can be mixed with hydrogen, displacing the fuel with hydrogen, reducing fuel use and lowering CO2 emissions.

A medium-sized rig (Soilmec SR30 rotary and CFA piling rig) was converted for the trial. These machines can typically use 100 litres of diesel per day of operation, leading to 262 kg CO2 in emissions.

This real-world test follows successful trials by ULEMCo and Skanska with Building Research Establishment (BRE) and backed by Government funding from Phase 1 of the Red Diesel Replacement programme under the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ).

Following successful yard trials simulating the technology, the rig was brought onto a HS2 site in London, where it has completed piling works for HS2, demonstrating that the dual-fuel adaptation can be applied more widely across the construction sector, supporting the decarbonisation of plant and machinery.

Using the dual fuel system developed by ULEMCo, called Hydrogen H2ICED® dual fuel, both diesel and HVO fuels were mixed with hydrogen to determine the average percentage displacement of fuel with hydrogen.

The initial trials at Cementation Skanska’s plant and fabrications facility, Bentley Works, Doncaster, used simulated loads to test the concept of part replacing diesel or HVO fuel with hydrogen – achieving an average fuel displacement of 36%.

The successful trial is one of several initiatives being undertaken by HS2 in its commitment to decarbonising construction sites and achieving completely diesel-free sites by 2029. To date, 19 HS2 sites operate entirely diesel-free.

“HS2 is continuing to drive a positive change in the construction sector and is providing an important environment to develop the real-world use of hydrogen energy technology,” says the Head of Environmental Sciences for HS2 Andrea Davidson.

“The development of dual-fuel systems that can be used to adapt existing equipment so it can run off cleaner, low carbon energy sources, could be a game changer across the construction sector,” says Head of Environmental Sciences for HS2 Andrea Davidson.

Now that it has been shown that the technology can work in a real-world scenario, ULEMCo and Cementation Skanksa are looking at how this technology can be used more widely, reducing embodied carbon in construction and reducing impacts on local communities near construction sites. 

“Using this rig in a real-world environment to install piles on a commercial site is an exciting milestone. It follows the success of the simulated trials last year and is the next step towards rolling the technology out more widely,” says Cementation Skanska Managing Director Terry Muckian. 

“This project goes beyond piling and ground engineering, it provides proof of concept for converting other types of heavy construction equipment, paving the way to construction site decarbonisation,” says Cementation Skanska Managing Director Terry Muckian. 

“The UK construction sector uses around 1bn litres of fuel annually, generating about 2.7m tonnes of CO2, and therefore finding ways to decarbonise the sector is critical to delivering the UK’s targets for net zero. BRE’s role in this trial is to look across the sector and to help accelerate the transition to clean fuels. Hydrogen looks to be one of the only currently viable routes to doing this in the available timescale,” says Ranjit Bassi of BRE.

“The machines used in construction are owned and used for many years, so demonstrating a decarbonisation solution that utilises these existing assets is not only cost-effective but also important for sustainability,” says Managing Director of ULEMCo Amanda Lyne.

Source: © High Speed Two Ltd 2023 | © 2023 Skanska 

Image source: © High Speed Two Ltd 2023

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