Cummins and Komatsu to build hydrogen electric trucks for mining

American engine manufacturer Cummins and Japanese construction equipment manufacturer Komatsu have established a joint partnership whose objective is the development of zero emission trucks for use in mining operations. The aim is for the propulsion system to be based on hydrogen fuel cell technology, the most appropriate for large trucks used in mining where, in addition, the refueling infrastructure can be easily implementedsince the routes are always very localized.

Last year, Komatsu and several of its customers related to the mining industry founded Komatsu Greenhouse Gas Alliance, an agreement to promote electrification in the sector through joint vehicle and infrastructure development work. The first concrete goal of the alliance was to continue Komatsu’s existing mining truck concept. It is a study of a transport vehicle that can work with a variety of power sources: a diesel-electric hybrid drive, an electrified overhead line, or an electric drive powered by a battery or hydrogen fuel cell.

In this sense, the collaboration with Cummins will develop this last option, assures the North American manufacturer’s statement, although for now, no information on possible vehicle specifications. “Komatsu’s extensive mining and equipment design and integration experience, coupled with our advanced energy technologies, including hydrogen fuel cells, will accelerate the decarbonization of mining equipment,” said Amy Davis, vice president, Cummins. “The mining industry has great potential to lead the adoption of renewable solutions.”

The mining industry is one of the that is turning to the adoption of zero emission vehicles in its operations. This is so due to the special conditions offered by this sector, with underground works in which the elimination of emissions is a fundamental task. Furthermore, in context, the adoption of hydrogen fuel cell technology also offers special advantages. These vehicles perform fixed and highly localized displacementsallowing hydrogen infrastructure to be built according to known loads and distances for immediate use in mining operations.

Hydrogen ecosystems work well in remote situations where grid power is not available. In addition, hydrogen fuel cells provide higher power density for vehicles the size of which are needed in mining operations. The need for them to work three shifts on many occasions is an impediment to recharging electrochemical batteries, but becomes an advantage when refueling hydrogenan operation that can be done in minutes so that companies can keep them running constantly.

Komatsu mining truck concept: which can be powered by a diesel-electric hybrid drive, an electrified overhead line, or an electric drive powered by a battery or hydrogen fuel cell.

This is not the first collaboration between the two companies. Previously both have already developed numerous mining and construction machines. In all cases, Cummins diesel engines have been implemented on the Japanese machines. “Cummins has been a long-standing partner of Komatsu and has invested in the key technologies needed to support the energy transition in mining,” said Masayuki Moriyama, president of Komatsu’s Mining Business Division. “These are critical technologies to help mining customers reduce CO emissions.two and accelerate its carbon neutrality”.

Cummins has previously worked on the development of vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The American truck manufacturer is currently building a plant for the manufacture of these systems in Germany.

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