Environmental Advancements In The Load & Haul Sector

With a growing global emphasis on tackling climate change by reducing emissions, many in the mining industry are looking at new ways of doing this. As part of its FutureSmart Mining scheme, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030, Anglo American has teamed up with First Mode (as the system integrator), Ballard and Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) to develop a fuel cell haul truck.

Based on an existing diesel/electric model with the diesel engine removed, the fuel cell system will be integrated into the motor/inverter set up. It is made up of 8 FCveloCity-HD 100kW modules feeding power into a battery system to be developed by WAE at its Grove, Oxfordshire base.

The Fuel Cell Haul Truck Test

The test site will be at the Mogalakwena platinum operation in South Africa, where a solar photovoltaic array will be used to run an electrolyser to generate the hydrogen for the fuel cells.

James Hoxey at WAE says, “In the initial concept creation, we went through a detailed study to agree the best sizing for the battery pack and fuel cell; this approach has enabled us to optimise the vehicle for the application, balancing the total cost of ownership (TCO) model for the whole mine strategy, from solar PV through to truck.”

WAE has gained considerable knowledge of battery design through its involvement with Formula-E and the upcoming Extreme-E racing programme, which begins in 2021. The requirements here are similar but not identical, as Hoxey explains, “For the concept programme we have utilised nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) chemistry, commonly used in EVs on the road today. As we look towards the future of this project we are considering different system approaches to deliver optimum performance and cost solutions. Unlike many of the automotive projects we work on, for this kind of vehicle and application, we expect cycle life, as opposed to calendrical ageing, to be the factor that will inform the cost model as these machines are in operation every day.

“We have of course designed for robustness; selecting materials that are more appropriate for the cost and purpose of the vehicle – so more aluminium and less carbon composite. The most significant shock to the vehicle will be the ~300 tonne load being dropped into the haul bed; so we have run a number of simulations to ratify material and design approach.”

Thermal management is always an issue when designing new battery systems, and Hoxey is open-minded here. “For the prototype battery system, we do not require liquid cooling; however looking at other usage cases we have designed for this on future iterations. The battery technology we have selected was in fact developed for an air-cooled EV. Flexibility is key in the design as Anglo American operates in a number of different environments and the systems need to have the flexibility to optimise for this in a modular fashion.”

Expanded Training Capabilities

It allows an excavator operator to work while a colleague learns how to operate the truck, interact with the excavator, and drive on various types of terrain.

CM’s Julien Richer-Lanciault says, “We believe this crew training capability is unique to the industry, in that it is the only training solution that simulates critical machine reactions, such as the precise motion of the truck when dirt hits the trailer or when it is struck by the bucket. This allows operators to develop the sense of feel that is so critical to efficient operations.”

In addition to those two tasks, another operative can simultaneously offer guidance from CM Labs’ Signalperson Training Station while a fourth can work from an Instructor Operating Station. The simulation then merges the various parameters to give a score for the team.

The company also offers a similar package for training mobile and crawler crane drivers. So, as Stage V comes into force across Europe, the efficiency drive continues.