Liebherr unveils results of greenhouse gas study

Consulting firm Frontier Economics, on behalf of equipment manufacturer Liebherr Group, has unveiled the results of a life cycle assessment analysis related to the greenhouse gas emissions of construction machinery equipped with various technologies. ‘coaching. The study was carried out to determine the quantity of CO2 released from production to operation and recycling of the machines.

The aim of the analysis, explains Liebherr, was to comprehensively calculate the emissions of the machines and their drives in order to be able to recognize and evaluate the most effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The entire life cycle of the machines was analyzed, from the extraction and transport of raw materials, through production and the actual operation of the machine, to disposal and recycling.

“Emissions analyzes are usually limited to the operational phase,” says Stephen Albrecht, Member of the Board of Liebherr-International AG. “This is not enough for our products because greenhouse gas emissions also occur in the upstream and downstream phases of construction. machine life cycles. To get the full picture, we looked at all stages of the lifecycle, including power generation and infrastructure provision.

These analysis results are then combined into a product carbon footprint, which describes a product’s emissions throughout its life cycle.

The study looked at three types of construction machinery: mobile cranes, mixer trucks and wheel loaders. The three types require different drive technologies in order to reduce emissions as much as possible due to their different performance requirements, explains Liebherr.

For truck mixers, electric drives contribute the most to emission reductions provided they use 100% renewable electricity for charging.

For mobile cranes, operating with hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) has the greatest potential for savings, although Liebherr says it’s important to ensure HVO is certified as being produced from vegetable and food waste and does not contain palm oil. Hydrogen made from CO2-neutral sources follows in second place. In the long term, operation with hydrogen seems optimal because the availability of HVO in the large quantities required cannot yet be predicted, according to Liebherr. However, until the hydrogen infrastructure and required drive technologies are mature, HVO offers the best results as an interim technology, especially in existing fleets with combustion engines.

Wheel loaders should be operated with either a battery electric drive charged with renewable electricity or e-fuels.

“The results of the life cycle analysis show that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for climate-neutral drives for construction machinery,” says Albrecht.

Liebherr relies on a technology-neutral approach to reduce emissions as much as possible depending on the machine and the application.

Liebherr says its product portfolio, with 13 product segments, illustrates what drives the company to compare different drive technologies. The smallest machines have an output of 30 kilowatts (kW) and the largest ones have an output of over 3,000 kW. All machines have to operate reliably under completely different conditions in various applications.

“A wheel loader on an urban construction site, for example, is exposed to different conditions than a mobile crane used in the construction of wind turbines,” explains Albrecht. “The former can often be powered by electricity. In contrast, infrastructure projects in rural areas often lack the power supply necessary for a power connection. In addition, more energy is often required than can be supplied with a battery-powered electric drive. »

Based on the results of the life cycle analysis, Liebherr supports the adoption of a technology-neutral approach in the transformation of the construction industry.

“Effective climate targets and incentives for the construction machinery sector must enable technological diversity so that the most environmentally friendly technology can be used according to performance requirements,” says Albrecht.

Liebherr asserts that the electric battery should not be seen as a universal solution, but as an important technology in the future propulsion mix. The company also claims that it is important to monitor the subject of hydrogen and that regulatory conditions for the production of hydrogen and e-fuels, which are made from renewable sources, should be established.

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