Global machinery manufacturers are preparing for a post-fossil fuel world, investing significant sums towards research and development of alternative fuel technologies, including electric, hydrogen and biofuels.
Following on from the New Holland methane powered concept tractor, global machinery giant, CNH Industrial in conjunction with its brand Case Construction Equipment have unveiled a methane-powered wheel loader concept, named ProjectTetra.
Launching at the Buama trade show in Munich, Germany, ProjectTetra was jointly developed by the CNH Industrial international design and CASE engineering teams.
On release, CNH Industrial said the unveiling gave the public an insight into a sustainable, connected and technologically advanced future of construction.
"This concept is a clear departure from anything seen to date in the construction industry," it said.
"The concept reflects both the increasing importance of alternative fuels, and demonstrates their viability in the construction environment: the concept wheel loader is powered by a proven methane engine, produced by sister brand FPT Industrial, and delivers exactly the same performance as its diesel equivalent.
"This is combined with cutting edge styling and an advanced operator environment, which makes extensive use of touchscreen and voice control technologies.
"Furthermore, innovative safety features include biometric technologies together with an obstacle detection system, which is derived from CNH Industrial's autonomous vehicle research and development program."
CNH Industrial said Case had demonstrated the feasibility of this concept in a range of real-world construction environments as well as proving the business case, in terms of sustainability, reduced overall total cost of ownership and operational viability.
"The Case methane-powered wheel loader concept is testament to CNH Industrial's longstanding commitment to alternative fuel technologies, and is further proof of the practicability and flexibility of natural gas, demonstrating its viability in both on and off-road applications," it said.
CNH Industrial said the concept uses an FPT Industrial methane engine specifically developed for construction applications, capable of a maximum power of 17 kilowatts (230 horsepower).
The company said other benefits of the equivalent diesel powerplan include a 50 per cent reduction in drive-by noise levels.
"The engine features stoichiometric combustion technology, developed by FPT Industrial, and first introduced in 1995; it is applied across the entire natural gas engine portfolio as it enables comparative performance to diesel engines, while delivering ultra-low emissions and high efficiency," it said.
CNH Industrial said biomethane was a fuel particularly suited to loader use, however the concept was also capable of using natural gas.
"Biomethane is produced using a cyclical system that delivers CO2 neutral production," it said.
"It particularly suits wheel loader applications, especially those employed in waste handling situations or on farms, as they handle the raw materials which are used to produce the biomethane which fuels them.
"This enables these businesses not only to be fuel sufficient, but also energy sufficient, as biomethane can also be burned to generate electricity to power buildings as well as to satisfy any heating requirements.
"For operations that do not have the resources to produce their own biomethane, the methane-powered wheel loader concept can be powered by conventional network natural gas."