May 11, 2022

Modern HVO is a synthetic fuel manufactured mainly from vegetable and animal oil and fat waste from the food industry. This is converted into hydrocarbons by adding hydrogen. HVO is an abbreviation which stands for hydrogenated vegetable oils. The major benefit of HVO is that using it as a fuel instead of fossil diesel is essentially CO2-neutral. In the future, this fuel will be used in all Liebherr mobile and crawler cranes. One of Liebherr’s main focuses is to ensure, in partnership with its HVO suppliers and manufacturers, that no foodstuffs, particularly palm oil, are used in the production of its HVO. 

Liebherr mobile and crawler cranes are able to use HVO

The conversion from fossil diesel to HVO fuel applies to the crane acceptance procedure and test drives as well as to the initial fuelling of cranes before delivery. Liebherr has been working for months to prepare its entire mobile and crawler crane range for use with HVO. For this purpose, the diesel engines were first checked, certified, and approved by the manufacturers. The cranes have also undergone extensive testing and trials with pure HVO by customers and in the company’s own test department. 

“If we consider the entire life-cycle of a crane from cradle to grave, including its production, CO2 emissions from a five-axle crane using HVO fall by 74 percent compared to a crane powered by diesel,” says Dr. Ulrich Hamme, managing director of design and development at Liebherr in Ehingen. “This was shown in a study and calculation carried out by business consultancy Frontier Economics. This is an important step in reducing CO2 emissions.”

The main reduction in CO2 emissions is during the operating phase. To achieve the maximum possible CO2 reductions, the crane must be powered permanently using pure HVO.

Using HVO as an alternative fuel for existing fleets

HVO and synthetic fuels made using renewable energy sources are an interesting concept for Liebherr as they are suitable for use in existing machines right now. Alternative fuel types such as HVO enable older Liebherr machines with internal combustion engines to be operated in essentially climate-neutral form. For all Liebherr engines up to the 560 KW power class, for example, they are approved for operation with HVO. In Europe, but also in Asia, Africa, and South America, lots of machines with internal combustion engines continue in use for a great many years and therefore also affect our climate. As HVO can be added to fossil diesel fuel in any ratio and used with conventional internal combustion engines, most of these machines in existing fleets all over the world can in fact be powered effectively with HVO right away. The CO2 saving is reduced accordingly with a lower HVO content in the fuel mixture.

One of the challenges, in part, is the practicability and availability of alternative fuels.

“To make HVO or other synthetic fuels attractive for crane operators, they must be available nationwide and in plentiful quantities at filling stations, as is the case today with diesel. That will not be possible from one day to the next. But Liebherr is making a start, and we are hopeful that it will have a signal effect”, says Hamme. 

“Germany has included synthetic, paraffin-based fuels, which do not yet comply with EN 15940 (XTL), in its regulations relating to the quality of fuels,” says Ulrich Heusel, production director at Liebherr-Werk Ehingen GmbH. “This is why HVO is not yet available at the filling station network. HVO is available at public filling stations for road vehicles in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, and Belgium as an additive for fossil diesel fuel or in pure form.”

Reductions in CO2 emissions by using HVO fuels at the plant in Ehingen

Liebherr has also analyzed all of its plant transport vehicles at the Ehingen site. The results show that the fleet can also be powered by HVO with a few exceptions. Liebherr has therefore also switched these vehicles to the climate-neutral fuel.

“As a result, we will be able to save 2.5 million litres of fossil diesel per year by switching to HVO fuel. That will mean an annual reduction of around 6,500 tonnes of CO2”, says Heusel.

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