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HS2 cleans up its construction equipment

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The HS2 project is developing a radical new technology that will clean up the emissions from its heavy construction equipment at a fraction of the cost of doing it by more conventional means.

HS2 has set strict emissions requirements for its Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM), with all plant needing to meet at least EU Stage IV requirements from 2022.

Many of the older machines, such as piling rigs, are fitted with EU Stage IIIA or IIIB diesel engines, meaning they emit more carbon and nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and particulates than newer equipment fitted with Stage IV or Stage V engines.

This could mean that contractors will be faced with the cost of replacing their equipment, or, at the very least, reengining it, by 2022.

However, working with exhaust specialist Eminox and contractor Balfour Beatty, a Junttan PM20 piling rig was fitted with a retrofit solution. The result was an effective upgrade of the rig’s Stage IIIA diesel engine so that it now meets the latest Stage V emissions standard, taking the piling rig to the lowest emissions level possible.

The six-month trial was monitored by Imperial College London (Centre for Low Emission Construction) and Emissions Analytics, and the results have just been validated by the Energy Saving Trust, providing certainty for the sector and making the retrofit solution available industry-wide.

As a result, existing NRMM can be successfully retrofitted to meet HS2’s 2022 criteria at a fraction of the cost of purchasing new equipment. For HS2, this could potentially mean a £300m saving across the project.

Unlike on-road exhaust emissions reduction retrofit technologies, which typically use compressed air from the existing system, the new technology removes particulates, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide emissions using new airless dosing technology. This is the first of its kind and the innovative technology will also benefit users of NRMM working in other clean air zones, such as Greater London and Birmingham.

Peter Miller, HS2.

HS2’s director of environment Peter Miller commented: “HS2 will be low carbon in operation and we’re also minimising the project’s carbon emissions as we build by utilising new low carbon materials and technology.

“This is one of many projects we’re developing with partners to cut carbon across the HS2 project and bring wider benefits for the whole construction industry.”

“Working in partnership with Imperial College London and our contractors CSJV and BBV, this ground-breaking innovation has allowed us to better understand plant emissions on site, create an NRMM plan to reduce worker exposure and community impacts, and develop technology to further reduce emissions in and around our construction sites.”

Andrew Stephenson MP.

HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson added: “We are going to enormous efforts to ensure that HS2 is one of the most environmentally responsible infrastructure projects ever delivered in the UK.

“By cleaning up the air on construction sites, this ground-breaking technology will protect our health and the environment, all while saving millions of pounds across the project.

“As the first retrofit solution of its class in Europe, this technology will be welcomed right across the construction industry.”

Carlos Vicente, Eminox.

Carlos Vicente, director of retrofit and aftermarket at Eminox, said: “At Eminox, we’re focused on helping to reduce emissions across a wide range of sectors and working on this pioneering HS2 project has enabled us to extend our leading retrofit technology from on road applications to construction equipment.

“Being first to market with Energy Savings Trust accreditation for non-road mobile machinery demonstrates the project’s innovation – it enables the construction industry to have new opportunities for cost-effectively reducing emissions to the lowest possible level and improving air quality across the industry.”

A second pilot is currently underway on a larger, Bauer BG30 403kW rig, to test whether larger machines within the 350kW to 550kW range can also be retrofitted, providing even more benefits to the sector.

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