Pilot Project Emission-free working near N289 started

Commissioned by the province of Noord-Brabant, JvESCH, as a part of the ESCHDOORN combination, has carried out an infrastructure project completely emission-free for the very first time. The project was realized in collaboration with various partners, in order to bring together the very latest innovations in the field of sustainable working.

At the project location

Monday July 25th of 2022 it is a bit crowded at the N289 in Ossendrecht when the project has started. Several machines that appear normal at first sight are unloaded, tested and the gutter along the cycle path is broken up. Wilfred van den Bliek, executor at JvESCH says: ‘We have been commissioned by the province of Noord-Brabant to restore an entrance of the Provincial road at this location. For this we replace the asphalt between the entrance and the provincial road with paving’.

An example of integral and sustainable collaboration

All maintenance that ESCHDOORN carries out on provincial roads on behalf of the province of Noord-Brabant falls under a UAV-GC contract. This means that the work is not only carried out, but that proposals for improvement are also actively submitted. For example JvESCH has made a proposal such as replacing the raised tire edge next to the bicycle path with gutter gullies. This reduces the risk of falling for cyclists. A number of other small jobs are also included, including the removal of old border posts. This is a lot more efficient than if we have to come back several times for this.

Sustainable working is becoming increasingly important. In order to gain more experience in this, JvESCH has proposed to the province that this project be carried out completely emission-free as one of the first projects in Brabant. In concrete terms, this means that only emission-free vehicles and machines are used on the work site, unless there is really no other alternative available. Paving materials released from the project will also be re-used on site as much as possible in order to limit transport movements for supply and removal as much as possible.

Zero-emission equipment: organizational challenges

Wilfred explains: ‘In the beginning it was very challenging whether it would work, because many manufacturers zero-emission technologies are still in their infancy. As a result, there are often only one or a few copies of the necessary machines in the Netherlands. Our own equipment was therefore supplemented with that of other companies. For example, the electric Tomach mini digger, vibratory plate and band saw of the company van der Sanden from Drunen was used for one of the first times. Furthermore, a Volvo FE ELECTRIC truck with clamp from Vrijbloed was used, of which there are only a few in the Netherlands. This had to come especially from Amsterdam. JvESCH’s own fully electric Toyota Proace buses have only been in use for a few months, which the company has supplemented with the Giant loader.

Scoop : Innovative Hydroine (formic acid) technology applied

All equipment must of course also be charged in a responsible manner. In order to be able to charge all electric vehicles and machines emission-free on location, the DENS X2 Hydrozine generator was the first in the world to be realized for this project in collaboration with DENS and F&L Powerrental.

To underline this, DENS CEO and co-inventor Max Aerts traveled to Ossendrecht especially to commission the first Hydrozine generator produced in series. Max proudly points to the serial number 1 on the typeplate and explains that the commissioning of the first generator is a new step in the journey that started in 2015.Together with a number of fellow students, he developed a remote-controlled car with formic acid as a fuel. After several successful proof-of-concepts, they decided in 2018 to convert the student team to the company DENS. This company focuses on offering an off-grid power supply based on the previously developed Hydrozine technology.

How does it work exactly? Max explains:’The fuel tank of the generator contains about 6.00 liters of Hydrozine, which you can use at full load for eight hours a day for no less than a month. In the generator, the Hydrozine is converted into hydrogen and then into electricity by a conventional fuel cell. The generated energy is directly stored in a battery, so the generator can supply a peak load of 40 kVA for half an hour and 25 kVA continuously’.

What makes this technique so particularly innovative is that the liquid hydrogen carrier Hydrozine is much easier and safer to store and transport than hydrogen, which has to be stored under pressure. This allows large quantities to be stored and transported in standard stainless steel or plastic packaging. To illustrate: with the filled 6.000 liter tank in the generator you can make almost as much hydrogen as you can transport with a full truck (tube) trailer. In addition, the ignition temperature is comparable to that of diesel. If you put a match in it, it will not ignite but extinguish. The Hydrozine used is sustainable generated with biogas from a manure digester as the basis. Work is also in progress on a technique to generate Hydrozine on the basis of electricity (hydrolysis)

Experiences on the construction site

And how does it work out in practice? Luuk Verwijmeren, driver at JvEsCH, says that there were a number of learning points. ‘The biggest learning point for me was that a reliable power supply on location is extremely important. The Hydrozine generator had to be returned to the supplier for adjustments, so that we could only use the electrical machines to a limited extent on one day and the work came to a standstill that day. In the end we partly solved this because we were allowed to use the power supply of a local farmer, but we had a limited charging capacity.

It also proves useful to have the power supply as close as possible to the project in order to be able to recharge in between. It also requires a different way of working to use the available battery capacity as efficiently as possible. The team must always think ahead and tailor the work to the remaining electricity left in the battery.

It turns out that the team enjoys working with an electric band saw, the Wacker rammer and vibrating plate. All three are quieter than the petrol variant, although the vibrating plate did have a fairly limited battery life. The electric mini digger ran in the same way as the diesel variant, only this machine fell back into the eco mode automatically. And if you want to continue, you always have to wait until the machine has built up enough hydraulic pressure’.

In conclusion

Foreman Wilfred van den Bliek saw that several challenges still had to be overcome in the execution of the work:’Due to double protection, it was not possible to charge the truck at the generator. And it turned out to be impossible to find a zero-emission asphalt saw. Many machines were also a lot more expensive to use. For example, the rental of the truck was 2.5 to 3 times the rent of a regular one and due to the limited range, it could not be used for other projects as is usual’. In short, several learning points and challenges for JvESCH to take with you to a next emission-free project and a lot of opportunities for market parties to take up.

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