‘World’s first’ large wheeled loader with hydrogen engine

At its plant in Bischofshofen, Austria, Liebherr recently unveiled what it says is the world’s first large wheeled loader with a hydrogen engine.

The L 566 H from Liebherr is said to be the world’s first prototype large wheel loader with a hydrogen engine. The L 566 H from Liebherr is said to be the world’s first prototype large wheel loader with a hydrogen engine. Image: Liebherr

As well as the L 566 H hydrogen wheeled loader being demonstrated for the first time in practical use, the first hydrogen filling station in the state of Salzburg was inaugurated, representing an important milestone in the use of hydrogen as a sustainable energy source.

“To make progress in hydrogen research, we need to have access to hydrogen. We built this filling station to further advance our goals for decarbonising construction machinery,” says Dr.-Ing. Herbert Pfab, Chief Technical Officer, Liebherr Bischofshofen.

The L 566 H from Liebherr is said to be the world’s first prototype large wheeled loader with a hydrogen engine. Liebhherr says that, following extensive studies, this technology was identified as the optimal solution for operating large vehicles that are difficult to electrify without CO2 emissions.

For smaller vehicles up to about 15 tons, battery-electric solutions are often suitable. However, the situation is different with larger machines with an operating weight of up to 40 tons and high energy requirements. The wheeled loader uses hydrogen reciprocating piston engines.

These hydrogen engines are manufactured at the engine plant of Liebherr’s Components product segment in Bulle, Switzerland. They enable not only zero emissions of greenhouse gases and almost no nitrogen oxides.

Another advantage is that the interfaces are comparable to those of a diesel engine, both thermally and mechanically. Liebherr says that “this represents a significant step forward in the development of sustainable large-scale machinery.”

Hdrogen filling station

As part of the development of the hydrogen wheeled loader, Liebherr Bischofshofen opened its own hydrogen filling station. An important strategic partner in this project is Maximator Hydrogen, which is not only the manufacturer of the newly opened filling station, but also a research partner of Liebherr.

The two companies are working on mobile filling facilities so that machinery can be refuelled directly at the construction sites. This is particularly important for remote construction sites and machines that are not very mobile.

Another partner is MPREIS, which ensures the supply of green hydrogen. This is important because only through emission-free production – using wind, hydroelectric or solar energy – can hydrogen be a sustainable and climate-friendly energy source. 

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