How Anglo American developed the world’s biggest hydrogen-fueled truck

Four many years back, Anglo American Plc could not discover any sector associates to aid its plan of changing open-pit mining’s monster diesel vehicles with climate-welcoming, eco-friendly hydrogen-fueled cars. 

After investing as a lot as $70 million on its personal to again the notion, the international miner revealed last week a new 220-ton car able of carrying about 290 tons of ore without the need of making world-wide warming emissions in the process. 

“It’s honest to say our desire to travel this was ahead of a good deal of the industry’s ambitions,” Tony O’Neill, Anglo’s technological director stated in an job interview at Mogalakwena, the world’s greatest open-solid platinum mine, on Friday. “When it came down to timing we ended up rather much by yourself.”

Anglo American, like rivals this kind of as Glencore Plc and Rio Tinto Team, are sensation pressure from buyers who are concerned about world wide warming to lower carbon air pollution. Changing the mine haul vans with hydrogen fueled types would slash emissions at Anglo’s open-pit mines by 80%, a important stage in achieving the company’s target of carbon neutrality by 2040. 

Trucks make up “a significant part” of the company’s greenhouse fuel contributions, said Natascha Viljoen, chief govt officer of Anglo American Platinum Ltd., the Anglo American subsidiary that operates Mogalakwena, in an interview. 

Anglo’s prototype truck is section of the company’s NuGen application, which also features a photo voltaic-powered system for creating environmentally friendly hydrogen on mining internet sites. An electrolyzer works by using strength from the sunshine to break up drinking water and build hydrogen. Anglo enlisted the support of engineering and hydrogen firms which include Engie SA, 1st Manner Holdings Inc., Ballard Electricity Programs Inc. and NPROXX BV. 

Duncan Wanblad, Anglo American’s chief government, stated the enterprise viewed as artificial fuels and biofuels before it became “crystal clear” that hydrogen was the resolution.  Anglo “built it from scratch,” he reported about the program in a speech at the mine, which is 180 miles northeast of Johannesburg. 

There is however loads of do the job to be finished to minimize the value to convert existing diesel trucks to hydrogen. O’Neill stated the company has put in tens of hundreds of thousands to launch its prototype. Standard diesel mine haul trucks are priced involving $6 million and $7 million each and every.  As the technology develops, economies of scale will kick in and fees will slide, he claimed. 

The prototype — a transformed Komatsu 930E — is a blue and yellow behemoth that on Friday trundled up a mound of dirt and retrieved a comprehensive load of ore beneath the watchful eyes of executives, workers and South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa. 

It is driven by a 1.2 megawatt battery pack and eight 100-kilowatt hydrogen gasoline cells. 

The first prepare is to transform Mogalakwena’s 40 diesel-fueled vans to hydrogen by 2026. That will will need 140 megawatts of photo voltaic electricity and a substantial enlargement of the hydrogen conversion and storage services on website. 

On cloudy times the program is to attain electric power from wind and solar plants owned by the company in other pieces of the state by the nationwide grid to make sure that the operation of the vans doesn’t add to global warming, reported Carl van den Ordel, a mine engineer for Anglo at Mogalakwena. 

By 2030 the corporation options to convert its worldwide fleet of 400 mine haul trucks — which function across platinum, copper and iron ore operations — to hydrogen. The effects of that would be equivalent to taking 50 % a million diesel cars and trucks off the street in conditions of emissions reductions, the enterprise explained. 

O’Neill said Anglo would like to promote the autos to its friends and believes the technologies it has created has other purposes that could consist of use in trains and ships. O’Neill’s technical group is also looking at extra economical methods of extracting metals from ores and treating rocks with microwaves to ease the digging of tunnels. The latter is similar to the technological know-how utilized by Elon Musk’s The Uninteresting Firm, he mentioned.

For now, the hydrogen-truck business is a portion of Anglo American, a former conglomerate that slimmed down to a pure mining operation right after shifting its headquarters to London from Johannesburg in 1999. Still, O’Neill stated there is nonetheless a concern of no matter whether it will stay in the corporation in the future. 

“It’s one thing we will feel about,” he mentioned.

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