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IT’S EXPECTED THAT BY 2021 THE FIRST MINING TRUCK THAT WORKS WITH HYDROGEN WILL BE OPERATIVE

The project, which was born from a call made by Corfo, seeks the development of the first reconditioned trucks to operate with dual fuel (hydrogen-diesel).

This initiative, unpublished worldwide, is made up of an international consortium in which energy, technology, mining and university companies participate.

As a way to boost the development of green mining in our country, in 2018 Corfo launched an international call aimed at the development of reconditioned mining trucks to operate with dual fuel, hydrogen and diesel. The Alset company together with an international consortium, in which energy, technology, mining and university companies participate, successfully responded to this call and are currently working on this project, whose first dual mining truck prototype should be operational in 2021.

 

 

In this interview, Freddy Reyes, from Alset, a company that runs the program, tells us more details about this initiative, which is part of the strategic projects associated with the Mining Technology Rodmap, developed by Alta Ley.

What are the benefits of this project for the mining industry?

The benefits of replacing diesel with hydrogen are several:

  1. Reduction of fuel costs and emissions. For a 2,700 HP mining mining truck, a 70% replacement of hydrogen, would represent an emission reduction of approximately 2,260 tons of CO2 per year. The electrification of the fuel eliminates the unpredictable volatility of the diesel price and causes at least the replacement percentage to have a flat behavior of a critical operational variable. The reduction of costs and emissions is rapid and significant compared to traditional mechanisms.
  2. Hydrogen produced locally to replace diesel has the advantage of avoiding geopolitical and / or transport risks.
  3. It is not necessary for the mining industry to replace trucks and other machinery, since dual fuel kits will be used to update the stock of existing mining trucks.
  4. The availability of hydrogen in the mine will create new opportunities for cost reduction and sustainable mining, through the use of hydrogen for generators, thermal processes and fuel cells for smaller equipment and underground mining.

 

Who participates in the project?

For the development of the project a consortium of world class companies was formed, including among them; Alset Ingeniería SpA, who is in charge of program management and technological development, the co-executors that are NTT Data (Japan), the Pontifical Catholic University and the University of Santiago. The participating mining companies are: BHP, Anglo American and Cap Mining. The energy companies, Acciona and Engie and the hydrogen production companies, Hydrogenics (Canada), recently bought by Cummins.

What are the advances they have so far? When do you expect to be able to implement it?

All Alset work teams and strategic partners in Chile, Japan and Austria, such as the Graz University of Technology, Austria, have been operating since the beginning of the project based on the development plan designed by Alset.

The first dual mining truck (prototype) is scheduled to be operational by 2021. The objective of this program is to run it with a high hydrogen replacement rate, targeting more than 60% of diesel replacement with hydrogen.

This development plan contemplates multiple areas. The most advanced are the following:

  • Dual engine development.
  • Security System Development.
  • Fuel storage system development.
  • Advanced human capital development.
  • Normative.
  • Local Capacity Development.
  • Sustainability associated with the truck operation.

 

The other areas of development to be addressed later, according to the progress of the different stages, are:

  • Truck Assembly Project.
  • Truck operation monitoring.

 

What are the main challenges facing the project?

The nature of the challenge of this project aims to obtain the maximum replacement of diesel with hydrogen under normal operating conditions in the mine.

Internationally, is there a country that has a project like this in operation?

The use of dual fuels in internal combustion systems is old and well known, but with other fuels such as natural gas. Some applications with worldwide recognition successes are, for example, the cases of the incorporation of natural gas in Argentina, Pakistan and India.

The challenge of this project is the use of hydrogen for mining trucks of high tonnage and in mining in general, which is incipient. There are two important efforts in this area. One is that of Chile with mining trucks with a capacity of up to 2700 HP. The other is an Anglo American project in a South African mine which seeks to test Fuel Cell technology in mining.

The difference between the two projects essentially lies in the fact that one points to the replacement of diesel with hydrogen using existing technology (internal combustion engines reconditioned to operate with both a mixture of hydrogen and diesel, such as the ability to use diesel only) and the second points to the use of pure hydrogen, using a mono-fuel technology of high purity.

The main advantages of dual technology are:

  1. The reliability of the system (for example, when faced with a failure in the hydrogen.
  2. Supply chain, the system can continue to operate with diesel).
  3. Its low cost (use of existing engines and no need for high purity for its operation).
  4. The scaling potential.
  5. Its ability to run on high power engines.