John Deere’s Pierre Guyot on the future of powering construction equipment

John Deere 510 P-Tier excavator

The question of how to power construction equipment effectively at the same time as bringing down carbon emissions is taxing the minds of experts across the sector.

In a recent interview, Pierre Guyot, vice president at John Deere Power Systems, offered Becky Schultz his view on what the future looks like.

For machines requiring a lower level of power, the answer is relatively simple but the view of the road ahead for larger machines is less clear, according to Guyot.

“Everything below 100kW has a chance to move to full electric,” Guyot said. “Above that, it will be different ways [ranging] from pure diesel, diesel hybrid, or renewable fuels.”

Guyot does also see the potential for biomethane and hydrogen but those technologies are a decade or more further into the future in his view.

“In the short term, we still see liquid fuel being prevalent. We see the potential for ethanol and spark ignition, which could also apply to natural or liquefied gas, in around five years,” he said.

But the complexity involved in producing and then distributing hydrogen fuel, means that hydrogen combustion engines are not likely to become commonplace until around 2035, he added.

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Rather than the off-highway sector leading the transformation on hydrogen fuel, he said he expected the on-highway market and in particular long-haul trucks to be the sector to drive change and mature the market to the extent that it helps to generate enough supply and bring cost to a level that the off-highway sector can then take advantage of it.

What does the future look like?

Asked if any specific technologies are starting to shake out as most likely to lead transformation in power generation in the off-highway sector, Guyot added, “I think it is still too early to tell. There are a lot of different technologies being tried and tested. Nothing is mature enough yet. I don’t think there is a silver bullet to solve everything we do today.

“We still believe that there is a long way to go before we get rid of internal combustion engines (ICE) and we believe we need to continue to invest to optimize and maximise the value of ICEs.”

Regarding what the future looks like in terms of power system development for John Deere, he said, “Electrification on the low end and we are heavily invested in immersion cooling technology for batteries that will feed very well out industry. Hybrid and diesel to really optimize the fuel economy [of machines], and spark ignition for ethanol in very specific markets like South America.”

To listen to Becky Schultz’s full interview with Pierre Guyot, click on the player below.

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