Anglo American unveils hydrogen and battery powered truck

The only emissions from Anglo American's 510-tonne retrofitted nuGen truck, set to be a key driver of its FutureSmart Mining programme, are water vapour

Anglo American has unveiled what it describes as 'the world's lightest 510-tonne truck' which runs on hydrogen and battery power. 

The nuGen truck - or 'Zero Emission Haulage Solution' - is believed to be the first time a truck of this size and load capacity (a 220t truck with a load capacity of 290t, providing a total laden weight of 510t) has been retrofitted from a diesel-powered vehicle and converted to run on hydrogen, that will be produced on-site in hybrid combination with a battery.

The truck, a key driver of its FutureSmart Mining programme, and four-year-old Sustainable Mining Plan, uses a hybrid hydrogen fuel cell providing roughly half of the power and a battery pack the other half, to allow energy recovery from braking.

Anglo American is building the truck at its Mogalakwena PGMs mine, according to its Sustainability Report, and the fuel-cell and battery-powered truck is set to enter service in 2022. It will be a forerunner to a fleet of similar trucks at seven operations by 2030.

How the nuGen truck works

Hydrogen enters the fuel cell from the tank and mixes with oxygen to create water in a chemical reaction catalysed by platinum. This generates electricity that is used to power the motors that drive the wheels, and the only emission from the vehicle is water vapour.

The 2MW hybrid battery/hydrogen fuel cell powerplant, which replaces the diesel engine installed, has been designed by Anglo American and partner First Mode in Seattle, USA.

The power management and battery systems in the truck have been developed to improve overall efficiency by recovering energy when the haul trucks travel downhill, through regenerative braking.

By harvesting the regenerative energy created when driving downhill, we reduce our need for external energy. This energy, stored in the battery, together with the hydrogen extends the truck's range and reduces the out of cycle time for the trucks, since hydrogen refuelling is significantly faster than recharging batteries.

As part of the integrated nuGen solution, we have also built a zero emission vehicles hydrogen production, storage, and refuelling complex at Mogalakwena that incorporates the largest electrolyser in Africa and a solar PV field to support the operation of the haul truck. ENGIE is the hydrogen producer and supplier in this proof of concept project.

Anglo American hydrogen sustainability pledges

At COP26, the company made the following pledges:  to both produce and consume 100,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year by 2030; to develop green hydrogen production systems at seven open cut sites by 2030, with three to eight hydrogen refuelling facilities at each, based on their haul truck fleet size; and to convert all diesel-powered ultra-class mine haul trucks at these sites to green hydrogen power by 2030, as well as to stimulate a wide range of hydrogen associated industries and opportunities within our host communities.

The Hydrogen Council currently estimates that hydrogen could represent 18% of global energy demand by 2050. Platinum group metals (PGMs), essential in cleaning up the noxious gases from internal combustion engines (ICE) for some time to come, also play a critical role in the emerging hydrogen economy.

Key Anglo American sustainability targets

2030: Reduce absolute GHG emissions (Scopes 1 and 2) by 30% and improve energy efficiency by 30%. Be carbon neutral across 8 sites.

2040: Be carbon neutral across all of operations

2040: Aim to reduce Scope 3 emissions by 50%

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