GM and Komatsu to Develop Hydrogen Fuel Cell Mining Truck

Komatsu’s 930E mining truck that will be powered. Credit | Komatsu
General Motors & Komatsu Will Co-Develop — Jointly Designing & Validating — a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Power Module for Komatsu’s 930E Electric Mining Truck

The 930E is already the world’s best-selling ultra-class haul truck. Lightweight and quick to refuel, hydrogen fuel cells are ideal for electrifying applications traditionally powered by diesel engines. Hydrogen provides an effective method to package large quantities of energy onboard the vehicle, without compromising payload carrying capacity, and General Motors is a leading developer of hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Additionally, fuel cells provide an excellent zero tailpipe emissions solution for vehicles with extreme hauling requirements, like the Komatsu 930E mining truck, with its nominal payload of 320 tons. These vehicles typically operate at a single mine throughout their life, which simplifies the challenges of sizing and deploying an effective hydrogen refuelling infrastructure to service the vehicle fleet.

“At GM, we believe fuel cells can play an integral role in a zero-emissions future, helping to electrify heavier-duty applications, beyond passenger vehicles,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM’s Global HYDROTEC business. 

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“Mining trucks are among the largest, most capable vehicles used in any industry, and we believe hydrogen fuel cells are best suited to deliver zero emissions propulsion to these demanding applications.”

Komatsu’s fuel cell-powered mining trucks will provide an additional pathway for decarbonisation beyond battery-trolley or battery-static charging solutions, without the need for additional charging infrastructure within mines.

Komatsu has set a target of reducing its global emissions by 50% by 2030 and a challenge target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. The plans for achieving these goals include reducing and eliminating emissions within the company’s product offerings, as well as in the company’s facilities and production of its products. Komatsu also works closely with its customers on reducing and eliminating emissions during product use through optimisation programmes supported by Komatsu technology and service solutions.

Carbon neutrality in the mining industry

GM’s target is to be fully carbon neutral in both products and operations by 2040.

“Finding new ways to power the equipment our customers need to do the vital work of mining and construction is a critical part of our commitment to supporting a more sustainable future,” said Dan Funcannon, vice president of North America engineering and development for Komatsu. “This is essential work that requires cross-industry collaboration, and we are excited to be working with GM on this important solution for a haulage offering without tailpipe emissions.”

GM and Komatsu intend to test the first prototype HYDROTEC-powered mining vehicle in the mid-2020s at Komatsu’s Arizona Proving Grounds (AZPG) research and development facility. This vehicle will be powered by over 2 megawatts of HYDROTEC power cubes.

GM has been conducting fuel cell research and product development for more than 50 years and is one of the only companies with advanced, home-grown technology platforms for both lithium-ion batteries and hydrogen fuel cells. GM and Komatsu believe these complementary technologies can help spur the adoption of lower-emission mobility solutions and help other industries beyond passenger vehicles meet their sustainability goals.

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