Volvo has been at the forefront of many impressive transportation-related innovations from ultra long buses to autonomous trucks. Therefore, it is not much of a surprise to hear that the carmaker is now aiming for an environmentally friendly construction fleet.
The world's first emission-free quarry
More specifically, Volvo is aiming to introduce the world's first emission-free quarry. This week, Volvo Construction Equipment and its customer Skanska announced that testing had begun for their ambitious Electric Site concept.
The project, set at Skanska’s Vikan Kross quarry, near Gothenburg, Sweden, is an eco-friendly system that combines electric and autonomous Volvo machines in order to achieve an anticipated 95% reduction in carbon emissions and a 25% reduction in total cost of operations.
The test run will last 10 weeks and take place in a real production environment for construction, asphalt and cement aggregates.
The hopes are that the near-zero emissions system will successfully produce the same output as Skanska’s usual equipment with the added substantial emissions reductions and costs decreases.
“This is the first time that anything like this has been attempted in the quarrying industry and, if successful, Electric Site could serve as a blueprint for transforming the efficiency, safety and environmental impact of quarries around the world,” said Gunnar Hagman, CEO of Skanska Sweden.
A blueprint for eco-friendly efficiency
Electric Site features eight Volvo prototype HX2 autonomous, battery-electric load carriers instead of Skanska's previous cumbersome and fuel inefficient three rigid haulers. The prototypes have also been equipped with advanced vision systems which enable the detection of nearby humans and obstacles.
A new primary crusher has been loaded by the 70t dual-powered, cable-connected EX1 excavator prototype, so far not revealed to the public. EX1 features a Volvo EC750 base that has been upgraded with an added electric motor.
Finally, the site includes the LX1, Volvo CE’s prototype electric hybrid wheel loader boasted to deliver up to a 50% improvement in fuel efficiency. The prototype is said to have 98% new parts and a new ultra-efficient machine design that allows the LX1 to complete the work of a wheel loader one size larger with significantly less emissions and noise pollution.
“We have had to completely rethink the way we work and how we look upon machine efficiency – pushing the boundaries of our competence,” said Melker Jernberg, president of Volvo CE. “The total site solution we developed together with our customer Skanska is not a commercial solution for sale today and we will evaluate the outcome of the tests but we have learnt so much already, elements of which will be fed into our future product development."
Should the project indeed succeed, it will revolutionize the construction industry and contribute to saving our precious planet. Best of luck Volvo CE!