Hybrid excavator promises big fuel savings

The Komatsu Hybrid offers 20 percent fuel savings over its conventional counterpart(Credit: Komatsu)

Komatsu has introduced the HB365LC-3, a 36-tonne (39.7-ton) hydraulic hybrid excavator to the European market. Compared to its diesel-only counterpart, the PC360LC-11, the Komatsu Hybrid is 20 percent more fuel efficient.

Using the same EU Stage IV engine as its diesel counterpart, which outputs 271 hp (202 kW), the Komatsu Hybrid adds a 53 kW power system. This system uses energy derived from a kinetic recovery system that generates power when the machine is swing-braking. That energy is then returned to the system when it accelerates during working conditions, aiding upper structure rotation to reduce the engine's load.

The EU Stage IV engine itself reduces NOx emissions to comply with European emissions requirements. Globally, Komatsu began introducing hybrid construction equipment in 2008, with hybrid excavators themselves logging 10 million hours of operation so far.

Hydraulic hybrid systems are becoming a big part of heavy commercial vehicle cost and fuel savings.

In the US, refuse collection trucks (aka "garbage trucks") in many urban areas are converting to hydraulic hybrid systems in which the continual braking and movement are harnessed to help power acceleration and dumpster-lifting operations. These systems also reduce noise pollution and increase brake and component life for the trucks.

Other hybrid systems for shunting trailers around warehouses, moving containers at shipping docks, and for other stop-and-go uses are gaining efficiency and cost-savings using hydraulic systems. Aftermarket retrofits from several suppliers are becoming common.

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