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Liebherr develops prototype hydrogen wheel loader

A wheel loader loads a truck with material
A Liebherr L 566 H hydrogen wheel loader Liebherr

Liebherr has introduced a large wheel loader powered by a hydrogen engine at its plant in Bischofshofen, Austria. The introduction event included a series of talks on the topic of alternative drives. However, the focus was on Liebherr's hydrogen wheel loader demonstration. Liebherr says that this is the world's first prototype hydrogen engine large wheel loader.

At the same time as this world premiere, the first hydrogen filling station in the state of Salzburg was inaugurated.

"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 of Liebherr Bischofshofen.

Liebherr's L 566 H hydrogen wheel loader

Liebherr identified hydrogen as an ideal solution for operating large vehicles that are difficult to electrify without CO2 emissions. The L 566 H is the implementation of this idea in a large wheel loader.

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 that require high energy requirements. Hydrogen reciprocating piston engines prove to be ideal in this case.

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 but are also efficient. Another advantage is that the interfaces are comparable to those of a diesel engine – thermally and mechanically.

Another highlight of the show was a MAN truck, also with a hydrogen engine. This shows that hydrogen technology is not only feasible in wheel loaders but is already used in construction site trucks.

The first hydrogen filling station in Salzburg

As part of the development of the hydrogen wheel loader, Liebherr Bischofshofen opened a hydrogen filling station in the state of Salzburg. 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. Together, they are working on mobile filling facilities so that machinery can be refuelled directly at the construction sites, an important step for remote construction sites and machines that are not mobile.

Another partner is MPREIS, which ensures the supply of green hydrogen. Only through emission-free production – using wind, hydroelectric, or solar energy – can hydrogen play a key role as a sustainable and climate-friendly energy source.

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