The rate of transition to clean energy solutions is accelerating across every sector, with the drainage industry no exception. Launched in late 2019, Rioned’s all-electric eCityJet has taken a little time to win over contractors but in October this year, a firm in The Netherlands became the first company in the world to launch a 100% electric jetting fleet.

It’s over five years since Elon Musk uttered the words, ‘In order to have clean air in cities, you have to go electric’. In the intervening period, Tesla’s market capitalisation has far outstripped car manufacturers globally and EVs have become a common sight on city streets.

While this is not yet true of commercial EVs and non-road machinery, it’s impossible to ignore the pace of change, with many in the industry already embracing this new paradigm.

Van der Velden Service Engineer Celestino Lopes Ramos da Cruz with one of the new all-electric jetting vehicles.

Commissioning the Drainage Fleet

At the start of October, Van der Velden, a sewer management company with divisions across The Netherlands, took delivery of a fleet of all-electric drainage vehicles, marking the first of its kind worldwide.

The fleet comprises three new Mercedes eVito electric vans all installed with eCityJet jetting machines powered by a bank of lithium-ion batteries to create a 100% carbon-neutral solution. The use of the three vehicles will save over 100,000 litres of diesel and mean the firm reduce emissions by almost 300 tonnes.

The new fleet has been operating in Amsterdam, ’s-Hertogenbosch and Groningen for the past few months. Much like the UK, The Netherlands has made a bold commitment to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the switch to renewable energy. Amsterdam is at the forefront of this change, with the ambition to be the first emission-free city in the world by 2030.

For Henk F. Verschoor, Equipment Service Manager at Van der Velden, it is a source of great pride to contribute to this ambition, whilst also laying claim to a world first: “An all-electric jetting fleet meets the company's mission to contribute to a better environment. We also wanted to be the first company in the Dutch sewerage sector to prove that working with an all-electric jetting fleet can be done.”

“We are convinced driving electric vehicles will become the norm in the Netherlands. As a small country, it will be no problem using electric vehicles, as long as their range is over 300 kilometres.”

The eCityJet is powered by six 5kW Lithium-ion batteries and produces 3000psi@13gpm pressure and flow.

The new eVito vans have an average range of 350km (220m) on a single charge, with the jetter units capable of completing up to 10 cleaning and unblocking jobs without the need to recharge. The eCityJet has all the features of a conventional diesel-driven van-pack machine and, even with six 5 kWh lithium-ion batteries on board, is only marginally heavier at 690kg (dry weight).

Celestino Lopes Ramos da Cruz, a vastly experienced Service Engineer with Van de Velden, has been using the new units daily and sees no difference in the performance and ease of use: “There are no drawbacks to this version of the eCityJet compared with my previous diesel van and machine,” he explains.

“The van and machine are 100% electric and almost completely silent. This makes it more comfortable to work in the evening because I don't feel weighed down by the noise the jetter normally makes.”

“The biggest difference is that I start my day at the charging station, which is pretty close to my house. From there I drive from one job to another. The workday also ends at the charging station, so the van is completely charged when I go back to work the next day.”

The new fleet is operating in Amsterdam and the surrounding areas.

Proof of Concept

Van der Velden has worked closely with Rioned over many years and the firm played an important role in the development and testing of the eCityJet. For Henk F. Verschoor, working closely with Rioned on the all-electric prototype heavily influenced the decision to commission the fleet.

“Testing the eCityJet was very important,” he explains. “And also very exciting because the results told us it was possible to realise our dream. Sharing information has led us to improve our business and take a giant step towards making it more sustainable.”

“At first, we were not really impressed by the eVito’s range, but we are happy to say this has been improved a lot since the test period. We can now serve all our customers, and also those in the city centres, without noise or odour nuisance.”