Battery Powered Equipment: Green Alternative on Horizon

The automotive industry’s push to increase the number of electrified vehicles in their portfolios raises the question: What pavement construction equipment can be electrified? The question was answered with GOMACO’s introduction of the first battery-powered curb machine.

“We started with the curb and gutter slipform paver due to the size and power rating,” says Kevin Klein, Vice President of Engineering/Research and Development. “Initially, our main objective for a smaller machine was achieving a full day of paving with a single charge in the most cost-effective way possible. Now that battery technology is increasing, we’re looking at the possibility of electrifying the rest of the GOMACO lineup.”

At this time, the battery-powered curb and gutter slipform paver is still being used for research and testing but have been used on several job sites as part of the testing phase. One of those job sites was a 15,000-linear foot job which included a curb profile for a large parking lot and distribution center. To date, performance has been as expected based on our engineering study done before implementation.

Benefits of battery-powered equipment on a job site include reduced noise and emissions.

“This technology benefits the industry by helping secure jobs where emissions could be a problem, for example, tunnels, inside buildings and parking garages,” says Klein. “There is also potential for tax breaks for going green.”

Challenges, at least for early adopters when electric pavers are available, can include higher up-front costs and availability of charging arrangements.

“The major challenge is charging,” Klein explains. “It’s not as simple as just filling up with fuel the next morning. The machine can handle a full day of paving but needs to be charged in one of two ways, either a seven-hour “overnight” charge or a two-hour quick charge.”

Either one of those can be accomplished by taking the machine to the shop overnight or by possibly having power at the job site. When either of those are not available, a generator is needed to recharge the machine.

“The next steps of development are to keep developing machines with the latest in new technologies and also research alternative ways to get efficient power, whether that’s hydrogen-powered, diesel hybrid, or fully electric,” says Klein. “We’ll be exploring voltages and efficiencies for our larger machines. The timeline is difficult to predict at this point because of component shortages and other challenges currently at work in the marketplace.”

This story originally appeared in the 2022 Fall edition of Concrete Pavement Progress.