In the sustainable industry, there’s buzz about hybrid technology. What is it? How does it benefit the user? How does it benefit the environment? What is the payback on hybrid technology? And what does hybrid really mean?
Caterpillar hit the nail on the head, so to “construction” speak, with the Cat 336E H Hybrid Excavator. This recently-unveiled and soon-to-be-launched (it will officially be launched at the BAUMA exposition in Germany in April 2013) machine is the first in its line of hybrid excavators and uses a new hydraulic hybrid technology developed by Caterpillar.
What does hybrid really mean?
“A hybrid is independent of any particular technology — it doesn’t have to be electric,” explains Ken Gray, Global Product Manager for large hydraulic excavators for Caterpillar’s Excavation Division. There are misconceptions in the industry today that hybrids have to be electric and that hybrids are small, less powerful and unreliable. The Cat 336E H proves that none of these common perceptions are true.
“There are many other ways to store and reuse energy, other than electric, even though this is the approach many others have taken,” Gray notes. (See explanation under the subhead “Hybrid Technology Up Close” further down in this article.)
Caterpillar defines a hybrid machine as one that’s equipped with devices to collect, store and release energy to perform work during machine operation. This means that to be called a hybrid, a machine is not dependent on any particular technology.
Wikipedia defines hybrid power in a similar way…hybrid power is the combination of a power producer and the means to store that power in an energy storage medium.
What can a hybrid do for you?
Simple. The hydraulic hybrid technology of the 336E H can save you money.
“From a customer perspective the 336E H does a great job of saving the customer money in a wide variety of applications,” says Randy Peterson, Advanced Technology Development Manager in Caterpillar’s Advanced Component & System Division.
Fuel savings is one of the most noteworthy.
The 336E H delivers industry-leading productivity with up to 50% greater fuel efficiency, which is measured in tons per liter, over the 336D. Customers can expect the 336E H to use up to 25% less fuel compared to a standard 336E, and up to 33% less fuel than the 330/336D.
Gray notes that the proven 336E has been an extremely successful machine. “It’s not that we felt we needed to improve the 336E,” he stresses. “It’s that we developed — and more importantly validated — a new approach that would lower ourcustomers’ owning and operating costs as well as contribute significantly toward lowering their carbon footprint.
Peterson agrees. “The Cat 336E has been highly efficient in its own right. To take an industry-leading workhorse and improve upon it and take it to a new level really is a game changer. That’s what we mean by this hybrid excavator revolutionizing the industry.”
Since the introduction of the 300 Series in 1994, the family of excavators has become the industry standard in a large variety of general, quarry and heavy construction applications.
Caterpillar introduced the standard 336E in 2010 as a direct replacement for the 336D. The 336E was introduced primarily to meet Tier 4 Interim/Stage IIIB emissions standards, and like any new Cat machine, the 336E includes several enhancements over its predecessor, including more horsepower with greater fuel efficiency, more lift capability, higher digging force and automatic after-treatment regeneration.
The 336E H has all of the same powerful advantages of the 336E with the biggest difference between the two models being even greater fuel efficiency. To achieve added fuel savings, the design of the 336E H uses three building block technologies (see interactive diagram) that: