GM, Komatsu to Co-Develop Hydrogen-Powered Mining Truck

The Komatsu 930E mining truck

(Credit: Komatsu)

by | Dec 18, 2023

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General Motors and Komatsu said they plan to jointly design a hydrogen fuel cell power module for Komatsu’s 930E electric mining truck.

Hydrogen fuel cells allow for zero tailpipe emissions and are able to package large amounts of energy to support electric batteries. They are also reportedly ideal for electrifying applications that typically use diesel power and can account for the large carrying capacity needed for mining operations. The Komatsu 930E has a nominal payload of 320 tons and will be powered with over 2 megawatts of hydrogen energy.

GM, which has a target of being fully carbon neutral by 2040, has been conducting fuel cell research and product development and is reportedly the only company with technology platforms for both lithium-ion and hydrogen fuel cells.

The companies plan to test the first prototype of the mining vehicles in the mid-2020s.

“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.”

Hydrogen-Powered Transportation Gains Traction

While the large majority of electric cars on the market are powered with lithium-ion batteries, hydrogen fuel cell cars have gained attention as another viable alternative to gas- and diesel-powered vehicles. Hydrogen vehicles may operate for longer distances without a refill and are still completely emissions-free, creating only water vapor in their exhaust.

In addition to these companies, Hyundai Motor has also taken steps to research and develop hydrogen mobility and aims to make hydrogen technologies more widespread. The company recently announced a partnership with Georgia Tech to advance the hydrogen economy.

Hydrogen power may reportedly be used to decarbonize a wide variety of transportation methods, including air travel, rail transport, and even maritime shipping. According to the Department of Energy, hydrogen is especially useful in reducing emissions from heavy vehicles, which are responsible for over 20% of emissions despite representing only 5% of vehicles on U.S. roads.

 

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