Anglo American unveils a prototype of the world’s largest hydrogen-powered mine haul truck designed to operate in everyday mining conditions at its Mogalakwena PGMs mine in South Africa. The 2MW hydrogen-battery hybrid truck, generating more power than its diesel predecessor and capable of carrying a 290-tonne payload, is part of Anglo American’s nuGen™ Zero Emission Haulage Solution (ZEHS). nuGen™ provides a fully integrated green hydrogen system, consisting of production, fuelling and haulage system, with green hydrogen to be produced at the mine site.
nuGen™ is part of FutureSmart Mining™, Anglo American’s innovation-led approach to sustainable mining – which brings together technology and digitalisation to drive sustainability outcomes, including their commitment to carbon-neutrality across operations by 2040.
“nuGen™ is a tangible demonstration of our FutureSmart Mining™ programme changing the future of our industry. With diesel emissions from our haul truck fleet accounting for c.10-15% of our total Scope 1 emissions, this is an important step on our pathway to carbon neutral operations by 2040. The mining industry is playing a considerable role in helping the world decarbonise, both through our own emissions footprint and the metals and minerals that we produce that are critical to low carbon energy and transport systems. Over the next several years, we envisage converting or replacing our current fleet of diesel-powered trucks with this zero-emission haulage system, fuelled with green hydrogen. If this pilot is successful, we could remove up to 80% of diesel emissions at our open pit mines by rolling this technology across our global fleet,” Duncan Wanblad, Chief Executive of Anglo American, said.
“We are incredibly proud of what our team, working with expert partners, has achieved in under three years. This is truly a world-class innovation and bears testament to our technical vision and determination to deliver a cleaner and smarter future for mining. It is these game-changing innovations that are exactly why we began our FutureSmart Mining™ journey in 2014, knowing how much of a difference we can make, including in the energy transition and across our societal footprint. Innovative, clean, and independent power systems, such as our nuGen™ ZEHS project, offer a significant part of the emissions solution,” Tony O’Neill, Technical Director of Anglo American, commented.
“PGMs play an essential catalytic role in many clean-air technologies, including related to hydrogen production and hydrogen-fuelled transportation. As part of our market development work, we have for some years been working towards establishing the right ecosystem to successfully develop, scale up and deploy hydrogen-fuelled solutions. Hydrogen has a significant and wide-ranging role to play in achieving a low carbon future – particularly as an energy carrier enabling the development of a renewables-based power generation system. We are particularly excited about the potential of nuGen™, amongst other opportunities, as we work to champion the development of South Africa’s Hydrogen Valley,” Natascha Viljoen, CEO of Anglo American Platinum, added.
Anglo American has been a longstanding champion of the potential offered by the hydrogen economy, recognising its role in enabling the shift to greener energy and cleaner transport. The hydrogen economy provides an opportunity to create new engines of economic activity. With a combination of abundant renewable energy sources (i.e., solar and wind), and as the world’s largest producer of PGMs, hydrogen is a strategic priority for South Africa and presents a significant opportunity for economic development, including the creation of new jobs and the development of the PGMs sector, while also contributing to South Africa’s decarbonisation objectives.
“At ENGIE, we realise the importance of green hydrogen in the decarbonisation of heavy-duty mobility, and we are dedicated to helping industry players accomplish their carbon neutrality goals. We are delighted to partner with Anglo American to provide renewable hydrogen for their proof of concept. Through this partnership, we aim to unlock the potential of green hydrogen in South Africa and pave the way for the decarbonisation of the mining industry,” Sébastien Arbola, Executive Vice President in charge of Thermal Generation, Hydrogen and Energy Supply at ENGIE, noted.
South Africa’s Hydrogen Valley
In South Africa, the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the South African National Development Institute (SANEDI), in partnership with Anglo American, Bambili Energy, and ENGIE, are looking into opportunities to create a Hydrogen Valley. The proposed hydrogen valley will stretch approximately 835 kilometres from the platinum group metals-rich Bushveld geological area in Limpopo province, along the industrial and commercial corridor to Johannesburg and to the south coast at Durban. The nuGen™ Zero Emission Haulage Solution is one of the first projects for South Africa’s Hydrogen Valley.
A feasibility study for South Africa’s Hydrogen Valley published in October 2021 identifies three hubs – Johannesburg, extending to Rustenburg and Pretoria; Durban, encompassing the city itself and Richards Bay; and Limpopo province centred around Anglo American’s Mogalakwena PGMs mine – with a fundamental role to play in integrating hydrogen into South Africa’s economy, and in establishing South Africa and its abundant renewable energy resources as a strategically important centre for green hydrogen production. Nine key pilot projects have also been identified across these hubs and are recommended to be prioritised by developers. They span the transport, industrial, and construction sectors.
A world first, developed by Anglo American with its partners
For the nuGen™ project, Anglo American has worked with some of the world’s leading creative engineering and technology companies, such as ENGIE, First Mode, Ballard and NPROXX, to:
- Design, build, and test a 1.2MWh battery pack, as the haul truck system uses multiple fuel cells that deliver up to 800kW of power, combining to deliver a total of 2MW of power.
- Design and implement a software solution to safely manage power and energy between the fuel cells, batteries, and vehicle drivetrain.
- Develop the power management and battery systems from the ground up, enabling us to tailor the system to each mine and improve overall efficiency by designing in energy recovery as the haul trucks travel downhill through regenerative braking.
- Build a hydrogen production, storage, and refuelling complex at Mogalakwena that incorporates the largest electrolyser in Africa and a solar plant to support the operation of the haul truck.
“The impact of our nuGen™ project goes far beyond our operations. We believe that the emerging hydrogen sector has the potential to dramatically improve the growth and development of many economies by creating new industrial value chains and economic generation opportunities. Growing the hydrogen economy will revolutionise not just Anglo American’s operations, but all mining and many other industries – and ultimately shape a better, cleaner world,” concluded Wanblad.
The world’s lightest 510t truck
Anglo American’s pilot for the nuGen™ Zero Emission Haulage Solution is a hydrogen-powered ultra-class mine haul truck. It’s an ambitious project that marks the first time a truck of this size and load capacity (a 220t truck with a load capacity of 290t = a total laden weight of 510t) has been converted to run on hydrogen that will be produced on-site in hybrid combination with a battery.
The nuGen™ truck is retrofitted from a diesel-powered vehicle. The truck uses a hybrid hydrogen fuel cell providing roughly half of the power and a battery pack the other half, to allow energy recovery from braking.
Hydrogen enters the fuel cell from the tank and mixes with oxygen to create water in a chemical reaction catalysed by platinum. This generates electricity that is used to power the motors that drive the wheels. The only emission from the vehicle is water vapour.
The 2-megawatt hybrid battery/hydrogen fuel cell powerplant, which replaces the diesel engine installed, has been designed by Anglo American and their partner First Mode in Seattle, USA.
The power management and battery systems in the truck have been developed to improve overall efficiency by recovering energy when the haul trucks travel downhill, through regenerative braking.
By harvesting the regenerative energy created when driving downhill, they reduce the need for external energy. This energy, stored in the battery, together with the hydrogen extends the truck’s range and reduces the out of cycle time for the trucks, since hydrogen refuelling is significantly faster than recharging batteries.
As part of the integrated nuGen™ solution, they have also built a zero emission vehicles hydrogen production, storage, and refuelling complex at Mogalakwena that incorporates the largest electrolyser in Africa and a solar PV field to support the operation of the haul truck.
ENGIE is the hydrogen producer and supplier in this proof of concept project.