General Motors and Komatsu have announced their collaboration to develop a hydrogen fuel cell power module for Komatsu's 930E electric drive mining truck, considered the world's best-selling ultra-class haul truck, according to a company statement.
The two companies will be working together to design and validate the technology. GM, a leader in hydrogen fuel cell technology, and Komatsu, a global mining and construction equipment manufacturer, will bring their expertise to the table to create a lightweight and efficient hydrogen fuel cell power module used as an alternative to diesel engines.
Why Hydrogen Fuel Cells in Mining Fleets?
Hydrogen fuel cells are perfect for electrifying applications traditionally powered by diesel engines. They provide an effective method to package large quantities of energy onboard the vehicle without compromising payload carrying capacity. Moreover, fuel cells offer an excellent zero tailpipe emissions solution for vehicles with extreme hauling requirements, like the Komatsu 930E mining truck, with its nominal payload of 320 tons.
“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.”
These vehicles typically operate at a single mine throughout their life, simplifying the challenges of sizing and deploying an effective hydrogen refueling infrastructure to service the vehicle fleet.
This collaboration between GM and Komatsu will provide a pathway for decarbonization beyond battery-trolley or battery-static charging solutions without additional charging infrastructure within mines. The news is significant for commercial work truck fleet managers because it indicates a shift in the industry towards more sustainable and efficient energy solutions.
“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.”
Using hydrogen fuel cells in heavy-duty vehicles like mining trucks is a significant step towards reducing carbon emissions and achieving sustainability goals. The collaboration is also expected to encourage other industries beyond passenger vehicles to adopt lower-emission mobility solutions.
The joint venture between General Motors and Komatsu to develop a hydrogen fuel cell power module for the Komatsu 930E mining truck is a significant development in the work truck industry and furthers GM's target to be fully carbon neutral by 2040. It represents a significant shift towards more sustainable and efficient energy solutions and is expected to encourage other sectors to adopt lower-emission mobility solutions. Keep an eye on this development as it could have significant implications for commercial and vocational work truck fleet operations in the future.
GM and Komatsu intend to test the first prototype HYDROTEC-powered mining vehicle 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.