Off-highway vehicle electrification is gathering pace because, in some cases, the technology powering this change is already proving cheaper and more efficient for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) than traditional combustion engines. Excavators tend to make up a substantial part of construction and mining fleets, so electrifying these machines is critical if companies are to reach their zero emissions targets.
Advanced Control, a systems supplier focusing on small and medium-sized stand-alone and integrated control systems, sought to electrify an eight-ton excavator. Reaching out to Xerotech with this proposal, the two combined efforts to create a functioning “Elcavator.”
The Challenge and The Solution
The main challenge facing Advanced Control was finding a battery that delivers the required power levels for as long as possible to impact employee shifts as little as possible before the next charge. This well-known factor prevents further uptake of off-highway electric vehicles (OHEVs).
The battery also had to sit beside the vehicle’s pumps and drive systems, adding size constraints to the design process. Furthermore, other aspects of the vehicle had to be redesigned, as hydraulic pumps are far less effective when used in a BEV, as this would call for a larger battery, which was not an option considering the space limitation. Hydraulic systems in excavators are also unable to provide energy regeneration when the boom is lowered, another drawback that would help the battery run longer.
Before engaging Xerotech’s services, Advanced Control stripped down the machine to install their drive system and a motor for each axis, replacing the hydraulic system for the excavator’s arm. The drive system functioned with the Hibernium® battery pack but didn’t require additional training for the vehicle operators, as it works like a conventional excavator.
The energy came from an NMC-powered, 634V, 190kWh Hibernium® battery pack. Xerotech CEO Dr. Barry Flannery explained that it was used simply because LFP could not meet the required energy in the given pack. Hibernium® packs, however, are chemistry agnostic, so cell chemistry can be chosen depending on the application in question.
Dr. Flannery shed some light on the process: “We picked a few of our standard packs and a configuration that best fit the customer’s application. They had a specific space constraint, voltage requirement, and energy requirement, and we picked the most appropriate solution from our catalog, giving Advanced Control different options and technologies to fit these parameters. They then chose the eventual solution.”
“Xerotech has been very helpful during commissioning; they’ve been online to the system, monitoring performance and updated the software as we needed it, but also the form factor of the battery was essential because it has to fit beside the pumps, the drives, and everything.”
– Kjell Ramsli, Advanced Control systems engineer
The Advantages and Future Vision
In the Elcavator’s case, when demanding power from the battery, 80% of the power is useable energy for work; for diesel-powered engines, it’s only 40%. This translated to eight hours of continuous operations during the initial testing phase. The vehicle will likely provide five hours of operational time in an actual work environment, with a 30-minute charge required to complete the remaining three hours.
The hydraulic system was successfully replaced, enhancing efficiency further, as there was less heat dissipation, and lowering the boom allowed for energy regeneration. This could either charge the battery or divert the energy to the other motors during intensive tasks.
Before long, the constantly developing Li-ion battery market will overtake the highly mature diesel engine one, leaving it firmly in the rearview mirror. Xerotech’s fully electric vision of the future aligns with this, as our scalable and configurable battery platforms make vehicle electrification available to every OEM and integrator.
The lack of recurring engineering and design costs makes electrifying single prototypes or entire fleets equally viable. Want to know more? Read about how Li-ion power can power the change in your industry; view our extensive product catalogue here or contact us today!
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Xerotech is a battery technology company that is solving one of the greatest challenges of our generation, industrial electrification. Our talented team is making an impact on a global scale, driven by a shared vision of a fully electric future.
Our Hibernium® battery pack platform is a battery pack platform that adapts to the bespoke needs of your vehicle or application. With Hibernium® you can choose your desired or preferred energy content, operating voltage range, physical dimensions, and even battery cell chemistry. There are no design or engineering costs even for one-off prototyping projects making this solution one of the only viable options for low volume, high diversity projects.
The electrification of heavy-duty machinery is now available to every OEM and Integrator.