The HS2 trial, carried out in partnership with Imperial College London and Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV), measured tail-pipe emissions to determine the potential benefits of using alternative fuels when compared to red diesel
The ‘real-world’ emission measurements tests were carried out on two 20-tonne excavators – a Liebherr R920 compact excavator (Stage IIIB) and a Komatsu PC210 excavator (Stage IV).
The fuels tested included standard red diesel (EN590) to provide a baseline for comparative purposes, red diesel with F18 fuel additive and two biofuels – hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO) and Enhanced HVO.
While the results showed limited air quality benefits when compared to red diesel, the trial demonstrated the potential carbon reduction opportunities through the sustainable sourcing of alternative fuels.
Both machines used during the trial had exhaust gas after-treatment technology installed to reduce nitrogen dioxide and particle emissions. As such the study also recognises that older machines with no after-treatment technology may have a greater potential for reducing emissions through the use of alternative fuels.
A key part of HS2’s carbon reduction programme is to support UK research and development and to build a legacy of knowledge, expertise and new commercial opportunities.
Supporting the transition from diesel to zero emissions
Neil Wait, head of environmental sciences at HS2 Ltd said: “On-site trials provide a real-world testing environment and are important to inform future solutions.
“While this testing showed limited air quality benefits from the use of biofuels, it’s clear that they are part of the construction industry’s transition to low carbon solutions, with potential CO2 savings that can be achieved through the sustainable sourcing of raw materials used in the fuels.
“The research findings support steps taken by HS2 contractors to exploit the potential of biofuels to reduce carbon impacts on our construction sites. We continue to work closely with our supply chain and research organisations to develop far-reaching sustainable alternatives which will change the way the construction industry operates and support Britain’s move to a zero-carbon future.
“These include fully electric solutions, solar and wind power, hydrogen technologies, retrofits on older machines, along with increasing delivery of materials by rail.”