General Motors has partnered with Komatsu in Japan to develop a hydrogen fuel cell power module for Komatsu’s 930E electric drive mining truck, the world’s best-selling ultra-class haul truck.
Lightweight and quick to refuel, hydrogen fuel cells are a great alternative to diesel engines, especially for vehicles that require heavy hauling. Hydrogen provides an effective method to package large quantities of energy onboard the vehicle without compromising the vehicle’s payload capacity. Additionally, fuel cells provide an excellent zero tailpipe emissions solution for vehicles while still being able to perform their hauling duties effectively.
The Komatsu 930E mining truck is just one of many diesel-electric vocational trucks on the market today. The company currently has two 930E mining trucks in its fleet. Each truck is equipped with a diesel engine running an electric drivetrain that can produce up to 2,611 kW (3,500 hp) at 1,800 rpm and has a 290-metric-ton (320 US ton) capacity.
Alternatively, the truck can produce 2,013 kW (2,700 hp) and carry 290 metric tons (320 US tons). Since these vehicles usually operate at a single mine throughout their life, it simplifies the challenges of sizing and deploying an effective hydrogen refueling infrastructure for the fleet.
“At GM, we believe fuel cells can play an integral role in a zero-emissions future, helping to electrify heavier-duty applications beyond passenger vehicles,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM’s Global HYDROTEC business. “Mining trucks are among the largest, most capable vehicles used in any industry, and we believe hydrogen fuel cells are best suited to deliver zero emissions propulsion to these demanding applications.”
Komatsu’s fuel cell-powered mining trucks will offer an alternative to battery-trolley and battery-static charging solutions without the need for additional charging infrastructure within mines.
Komatsu has set ambitious targets to reduce its global emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, respectively. Similarly, GM has also pledged to become fully carbon-neutral in both products and operations by 2040.
“Finding new ways to power the equipment our customers need to do the vital work of mining and construction is a critical part of our commitment to supporting a more sustainable future,” said Dan Funcannon, vice president of North America engineering and development for Komatsu. “This is essential work that requires cross-industry collaboration, and we are excited to be working with GM on this important solution for a haulage offering without tailpipe emissions.”
The two companies aim to test a prototype of the hydrogen fuel cell-powered 930E mining truck in the mid-2020s at Komatsu’s Arizona Proving Grounds (AZPG) research and development facility. This vehicle will be powered by over 2 megawatts of HYDROTEC power cubes.