Earlier this year, Komatsu announced plans to develop hydrogen powered engines for heavy-duty mining dump trucks. This is a first for the industry, and the company aims to release the new trucks into the market by 2030.
Hydrogen-powered mining dump trucks could help address the fact that most vehicles of its kind mostly rely on diesel, resulting in large carbon dioxide emissions. Despite some trucks running on electricity from overhead power lines, this is currently not possible for all projects, as remote areas often do not have the correct power supply. Hydrogen powered machinery provides a possibility for a zero-emissions mining site, even in areas where this was previously not possible.
Hydrogen fuel cells are an expensive investment, however, mass production and uptake by the industry could help drive costs down.
JCB has recently announced an emission-free hydrogen-fuelled piston engine. Based on JCB’s own Dieselmax 448 four-cylinder engine, the new engine has been modified to feature a new induction system, with all-new pistons, lowered compression, high-pressure common-rail fuelling, as well as port injection. The piston engine offers various cost advantages over traditional battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cells. Research has shown that the prototype engine emits less Nitrous Oxide than diesel, even with diesel after-treatment which cuts pollutants by 98%.
Volvo CE has just opened a new R&D facility for the development of hydrogen fuel cells in Sweden. The company is dedicated to developing alternative fuel solutions as part of its goal to become free of fossil fuels by 2040.
“Fuel cell technology is a key enabler of sustainable solutions for heavier construction machines, and this investment provides us with another vital tool in our work to reach Science-Based Targets. The lab will also serve Volvo Group globally, as it’s the first to offer this kind of advanced testing. It’s a really exciting step to accelerate the development of fuel cell solutions towards our united vision for a carbon neutral society.”– Toni Hagelberg, Head of Sustainable Power at Volvo CE,
Volvo CE sees hydrogen fuel cell technology as playing a key role within its overall electromobility ambitions. Together with battery electric solutions, as demonstrated by their electric compact machines and more sustainable internal combustion engines, Volvo CE is dedicated to the journey towards a carbon neutral society. While battery electric solutions are ideal for urban construction and some other uses, the size of the batteries is not practical enough for larger machines and heavy construction equipment, which is where hydrogen comes in as a promising alternative.
We can expect to see more hydrogen-powered plant machinery in the future, as more alternative power sources increase their share of the market in the goal towards carbon neutrality.