Grant accelerates Danfoss electrification efforts

Danfoss plans to use the grant from the U.K. government to accelerate technological developments that will enable use of smaller, more cost-effective batteries in equipment such as excavators and wheel loaders. (Photo: Danfoss)

Global hydraulics and electric powertrain systems supplier Danfoss Power Solutions has secured a $450,000 grant from the U.K. Department for Business Energy and Skills as part of its Red Diesel Replacement competition, which seeks to accelerate the transition to electric off-road vehicles such as excavators and wheel loaders. Danfoss will use the grant to accelerate developments toward improving machine efficiency.

According to Danfoss research, as much as 70% of an excavator’s energy is wasted in the hydraulic system between the engine and the working functions. Significantly reducing this energy loss would enable machines to use much smaller, more cost-effective batteries.

“For a large excavator, the daily power consumption is so high, the batteries required are the equivalent to as many as 10 typical electric car batteries, which could cost as much as the machine itself,” said Niall Caldwell, senior director of R&D, Digital Displacement, Danfoss Power Solutions. “The key, we believe, is efficiency.”

Danfoss plans to combine electrification with its Digital Displacement technology to significantly improve that efficiency. The technology – recently recognized as Powertrain Product of the Year and the Achievement of the Year at the 2022 Diesel Progress Summit – is designed to decrease the size of batteries required to power machines and the amount of energy needed to charge them.

The technology consists of computer-controlled Digital Displacement hydraulic pumps featuring electronically variable pump displacement that results in fast, accurate flow control, Danfoss explained. According to a paper the company submitted to the International Fluid Power Conference (IFK), the technology can enable a 24.8% lower capacity battery to complete eight hours of typical operation.

The grant from the U.K. government will be used to accelerate technological developments to reach 50% improvement, said Leif Bruhn, head of Digital Displacement, Danfoss Power Solutions. “Our goal is to make electric off-highway machines cheaper to own and run than diesel equivalents. This program will allow us to prove that combining better efficiency alongside electrification is the most effective way to bring down cost, improve performance and hasten the adoption of electric off-highway machines worldwide, which is what we all want to achieve.”

Danfoss is in the process of constructing a £25 million manufacturing, research and development facility in Edinburgh, Scotland, to commercialize its Digital Displacement technology and Editron electric drivetrains. Dubbed the Decarbonization Hub, the facility will become operational next year.

“Our new U.K. facility will be an important hub for Danfoss decarbonization programs. This grant from the U.K. government recognizes the potential of our efforts and will help us realize our plans,” said Bruhn. “These funds will be used to accelerate the work we’re doing to develop next-generation, climate-friendly technologies in hydraulics, digitalization and electrification.”

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