Biomethane is the future, says Case as it unveils concept wheel loader

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The power source of the future for large machines is not electricity, but LNG, CNG and biomethane – that’s the message Case Construction Equipment delivered to a packed press conference at Bauma yesterday (April 8).

There were gasps from the audience as the first images of a new concept vehicle – Project Tetra – were flashed up on the screen behind CNH Industrial CEO Hubertus Muhlhauser and president of construction Carl Gustaf Göransson, who delivered the presentation.

“LNG, CNG and biomethane is the way forward,” said Muhlhauser. “Biomethane is derived from bio sources, which means you can take more CO₂ out of the atmosphere than you can with electric engines. This technology is going to revolutionize the world. We are already seeing three-digit growth in LNG, year on year.”

Indeed, Göransson went on to underline the fact that LNG is not a radical new technology, but something that CNH Industrial has been working on for many years via the engine, agriculture and commercial sides of its business. “FPT has already produced 40,000 gas engines and Iveco has 28,000 gas-powered vehicles on the road,” he said.

“We have already launched our biomethane tractor,” added Muhlhauser. “And this technology is already a reality in trucks and buses. The time to bring this to market is in the next one to two years – 2020-2021. Diesel will be banned from city centers, so we are investing in that trend. And with biomethane, over LNG or CNG, vehicles can actually clean the atmosphere, as you are capturing methane from bio sources.”

Regarding Project Tetra, Göransson was proud to point out that, when running on biomethane, the engine was projected to reduce carbon emissions by 96% and particulate emissions by 80%, while also reducing noise by around 50%. The vehicle is also conceived to include advanced camera technology, concept airless Michelin tires, autonomous features and remote-control options, and can run on any type of natural gas thanks to its 6-cylinder NG engine from FPT Industrial’s NEF family.

Muhlhauser stated that electrification would still have a place for the compact equipment, but it could not currently compete with LNG and biomethane for larger equipment. But that even biomethane would perhaps be edged out within another decade by fuel cells, once the production of hydrogen becomes less expensive.

Speaking exclusively to iVT directly after the unveiling ceremony for Project Tetra that followed the announcement, CNH Industrial’s design director David Wilkie (above), said, “I think as a concept at CNH Industrial this is the most extreme that we’ve done, but it still had to work and this is the big difference between this and some of the stuff that can be seen in automotive. In the construction industry, as in ag, nobody likes fake. So, it had to be as real as can be. But we also wanted to make an impact. So, I had to do something that was visually striking that you wouldn’t walk past. But it also had to make sense – so much so that they took it out one day to the top of a quarry, which was great to see. It really works.”

You will be able read more of our exclusive interview with David Wilkie in the forthcoming June edition of iVT magazine, where you will find out more about the design process behind Project Tetra.

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Tom Stone is Editor of the iVT brand – which includes digital and print editions of a quarterly magazine, Off-Highway Annual, and the Advanced Lift-truck supplement, as well as ivtinternational.com, which is updated daily. Tom has met and interviewed some of the world's leading industrial vehicle OEM presidents, CEOs and MDs, and takes great pride in cementing iVT's place as the leading forum for debate within the industry, a reputation that his been built up over the brand's 25-year history.

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