Today, South Africa welcomes the world’s largest hydrogen-powered truck as it begins work in a platinum mine. The project – named nuGen – aims to relieve the mine’s current fleet of 40 diesel-powered trucks. Each diesel-powered truck uses around 1 million litres of diesel each year. Can you hear the planet shouting its thanks?
The mine in question is the Anglo American-owned Mogalakwena mine. The new hydrogen-powered truck will get its power from an on-site solar-powered hydrogen electrolyser. This machine splits water molecules, sending the resulting hydrogen to the truck. Unlike its diesel counterparts, this truck won’t create any harmful emissions while doing its thing. Unless you count the practice of mining as harmful. Which… fair point.
— Anglo American (@AngloAmerican) May 5, 2022
Anglo American certainly has lofty goals for its nuGen project. The immediate goal is to have eight more of the company’s mines step away from carbon-based vehicles by 2030. According to the company, all of their vehicles worldwide will be carbon-free by the year 2040.
Speaking at the presentation in Polokwane, Julian Soles, head of technology development and mining at Anglo American said, “People told us three years ago this is not going to happen, this is not a good idea. They are now beginning to take real notice. The vision for us is to see this rolled out across our business and the mining industry. It’s Anglo’s choice whether to commercialise this.”
Since South Africa is one of the most well-known mining countries, it makes sense that we would be one of the first to test and adjust to the new technology. According to Soles, around 80% of all the company’s diesel consumption comes from its thirsty trucks. If the project succeeds, the diesel saved would make a massive difference in the world’s climate problem. And this is just one mining company. If other mining companies adopt this method, maybe things would appear less dire.
The Mother of all Trucks
The trucks themselves are no small feat. While running solely on hydrogen, they still carry a load of ore weighing 315 tonnes. The vehicles are old trucks retrofitted with hydrogen tech, saving the need to create new vehicles from scratch.
The trucks operate by putting hydrogen into the fuel tanks. The fuel combines with oxygen to create water. The water generates electricity which then powers the motor controlling the wheels. The only emission that the truck generates is water vapour, instead of the planet-suffocating emissions we’re used to.
Whether or not Anglo American completes its high-profile project over the next few years, it’s still a step in the right direction. We’re rooting for them to get it right.
Source: Anglo American