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Accelerating the Transition to a More Sustainable Future

A significant proportion of applications for Atlas Copco’s products are in locations without easy access to electricity. As a result, diesel-power has long reigned king of the portable compressor market. But, thanks to societal changes, technological advances and the launch of the battery-powered B-Air – which just so happens to be a world first – that dominance is being challenged.

Atlas Copco battery operated mobile compressor B-Air 185-12 powers pneumatic tools for road construction work. Image Credit: Atlas Copco

Atlas Copco is No Stranger to Firsts

Our talented team of engineers has been pioneering new technologies and innovations for 150 years, aligning product development with the changing needs of society. And what society needs now, as it continues to sink deeper into a climate emergency and energy crisis, is to decarbonise. And fast.

Enabling the Transformation to a Low-Carbon Society

To help accelerate the journey towards a low-carbon future, Atlas Copco has committed to a range of science-based targets, including to reduce our value chain emissions, mainly the carbon impact of our products in use by 28% by 2030, compared to our 2019 level of emissions. Making our internal combustion engines more efficient and adopting biodiesels such as hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) has cut our emissions drastically within the last decade. But the key to achieving the transformation we all seek demands the long-term substitution of diesel power, entirely. The obvious solution to this challenge is to switch to electrification, powered by renewables.

It Started With Plug-in Electric Portable Air Compressors

In 2018 we released the E-Air VSD range of plug-in electric portable air compressors, which have subsequently proven to be extremely popular. Yet as successful as it is, it is constrained by its need for a constant external supply of electricity. The self-sufficient, battery powered B-Air is therefore a logical evolution of the genre.

Now Introducing the First Battery-Powered Portable Screw Compressors

Battery energy storage presents the ideal solution to provide a combination of energy efficiency and autonomy. The B-Air runs on electricity supplied by its battery, with its 57kWh internal battery capacity removing the need for fuel or a continuous external electricity supply. Cable-free when in use and compact in design, it offers portability and productivity to those working on sites where access to electricity is restricted. This marks a significant shift for the industry, as for the first time in history it offers a viable battery alternative to applications such as road construction, fibre optic cable blowing and crash barrier work, while providing users with the same functionality that is availability with a diesel compressor.

The Potential of Battery Technology

Battery technology has undergone a transformation in recent years, offering new non-internal combustion engine product opportunities and becoming an enabler of a more sustainable way of working across multiple industries. Lithium-ion batteries, in particular, have become the heart of countless portable devices and vehicles. And now also in one of our portable screw compressors.

Reducing Harmful Emissions and Noise Pollution

One of the primary ways this innovation can accelerate the transition to a more sustainable future is by reducing harmful emissions and noise pollution. Even the most advanced gasoline or diesel-powered compressors still emit noxious fumes, contributing to air pollution and climate change. Battery-powered compressors, on the other hand, operate silently and produce no local emissions, making them ideal for indoor locations, environmentally sensitive areas and urban job sites. And all this with no compromise on performance. On the contrary, it even offers new possibilities, for example for indoor applications where diesel alternatives are no option due to their emissions.

Designed to Maximize Energy Utilization

Battery technology brings another significant advantage to the portable compressor industry that is also available with our electric driven units with cord: energy efficiency. Battery-powered compressors are designed to maximize energy utilization, resulting in lower operating costs and a reduced carbon footprint. Their efficient energy management systems help conserve power while delivering high-performance output, ensuring long-term savings for both businesses and the environment.

The Big Shift Towards a Low-Carbon Future

Every day marks an incremental shift away from the industry’s deeply ingrained convention of diesel dependency and towards a low-carbon future. Thanks to the plug-in electric E-Air’s popularity, mobile compressors have been an early success story of this energy transformation. Eventually, we aim to offer a diesel alternative to every user and every application, and the battery powered B-Air takes an important step towards that goal.

It Is Our Responsibility to Lead This Transition

As the market leader in portable compressed air solutions, Atlas Copco understands its responsibility to play a leading role in helping the industry decarbonise. Contributing to turning the tide on climate change requires an industry-wide effort to transition away from diesel in place of renewable alternatives. It also depends on an acceptance of new ways of working, an openness to new technology and leadership to show the way to others. In the words of author Richelle E. Goodrich: ‘The direction you choose to face determines whether you’re standing at the end or the beginning of the road’.

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