Can Retrofitting Vehicles Boost Efficiency & Sustainability?

By Edgar Keller, President Traction Business, ABB
The Improvements Offered by ABB's Retrofit Solutions are Diverse
ABB’s President Traction Business, Edgar Keller, Explains How Retrofitting Mining Vehicles for Electrification Boosts Efficiency and Sustainability

In the coming decade, the world is poised for a transformative shift towards electric vehicles and energy storage, driving the demand for essential minerals such as graphite, lithium, nickel and cobalt. A recent benchmark forecast predicts the need for more than 300 new mines to meet this demand.

As the mining industry grows in size, it is also striving to transition towards a net-zero economy, with a target for an 85% reduction in emissions by 2050. Meeting this ambitious target requires electrification, especially for large vehicles such as dumper trucks. Yet  despite the vast potential, only 0.5% of mining equipment is currently fully electric. 

While it makes sense to go all-electric for new vehicles, the very large fleet of tens of thousands of existing vehicles needs to continue in operation. That means there is a massive scope to find ways to convert them from fossil fuels to reliable, energy efficient electric operation based on batteries or catenary power supplies.

Extending lifespan with retrofit

As the Mining Industry Grows in Size, it is Also Striving to Transition Towards a Net-Zero Economy

ABB has developed a diverse range of electrification solutions tailored for both retrofitting existing systems and implementing innovations in new designs. These include motors, batteries, inverters, controllers and charging systems. Retrofit solutions stand out for their ability to significantly extend the lifespan of traction systems.

By opting for retrofitting, mining operators not only safeguard their initial investments but also benefit from a prolonged operational life, with potentially a decade before major mechanical maintenance is required. 

The improvements offered by ABB's retrofit solutions are diverse, ranging from enhanced redundancy in vital systems to improved energy efficiency and maintainability. 

So, why electrify your fleet?

The Mining Industry has a Target for an 85% Reduction in Emissions by 2050

ABB's cutting-edge technology ensures superior performance with electric traction compared to traditional diesel options. Notably, this can offer remote-monitoring capabilities, heightened productivity and increased sustainability through reduced CO2 emissions.

The economic benefits are significant as well, with lower operating costs attributed to reduced maintenance requirements. ABB's commitment to safety extends to providing the safest battery technology on the market, contributing to improved employee health and safety.

Electrification removes the health risks of noise and particulate emissions. Furthermore, in underground mining, electrification addresses a critical factor — ventilation costs, in terms of both capital investment and running costs.

ABB has extensive capabilities and expertise to simulate and evaluate vehicle dynamics tailored to the operation and infrastructure needs of mines. Collaborating with OEMs, ABB seeks optimised solutions for mines, covering the entire spectrum from the grid to the wheel.

How ABB Retrofits Existing Mining Vehicles with Electric Solutions

For example, First Mode has utilised ABB’s megawatt-scale DC-to-DC converter and on-site engineering expertise to launch the world’s first ultra-class haulage truck powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. The prototype truck debuted at a platinum mine in South Africa. Stress-tested in one of the most demanding of operations, it excelled, proving that a combination of batteries and fuel cells to power heavy-duty vehicles is a viable alternative to diesel.

Turkey’s Nuh Cement, working jointly with ABB, is converting 10 mainly Euclid/Hitachi dump trucks with an average 160 ton capacity, which have completed their 30-year service life, from diesel engine power to battery-electric power. The aim is to save a million litres of diesel fuel annually.

ABB stands at the forefront of electrifying the future of mining, offering tailored solutions that enhance efficiency, prolong lifespan and contribute to a sustainable and environmentally conscious industry. As the mining sector navigates the path to a net-zero future, ABB's electrification innovations pave the way for a transformative and responsible evolution.

To find out more, click here.

Disclosure: This article is an advertorial and monetary payment was received from ABB. It has gone through editorial control and passed the assessment for being informative.

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