Shell has formed a nine-member consortium to develop a new pilot project for decarbonizing the mining industry. An interoperable, end-to-end electrification system minimizes carbon emissions without sacrificing operational efficiency while striving to be cost-competitive with diesel-powered vehicles.
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Decarbonization of Mine Haul Trucks
Since most open-pit mines are still running diesel haul trucks, not much has changed in the previous decade regarding the decarbonization of mining industries on a global level. However, miners are now overcoming concerns regarding the operational and economic risks of decarbonizing mine haul vehicles.
Diesel haulers are the mining industry's standard vehicles because they are an inexpensive, adaptable, and popular solution with a well-established supply chain. However, their advantages overshadow their long-term consequences.
Mine haul trucks release 68 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, accounting for 30-50% of a mine's overall energy expenditure. In addition to carbon dioxide, diesel trucks generate a variety of other pollutants and are susceptible to fluctuations in diesel fuel prices.
Moreover, trucking demand at mining sites is expected to increase significantly due to rising mineral demand. As a result, mining companies must replace their diesel-powered transport fleets with alternatives that produce less carbon dioxide to decarbonize their operations.
Charge on Innovation Challenge and Shell's Mining Electrification Solutions for Off-Road Vehicles
The Charge on Innovation Challenge was introduced in 2021 and encouraged manufacturers and technology innovators from all sectors to work with the mining sector to develop creative approaches to electric vehicle charging. Over 350 organizations from 19 different industries expressed interest in the challenge.
Shell partnered with Skeleton, Stäubli, Microvast, Carnegie Robotics, Spirae, Heliox, Worley, and Alliance Automation in this exhibition to propose an integrated electrification solution for off-road mining vehicles. This consists of the following:
- Power distribution and microgrids: strive to deliver a regular and dependable renewable energy source stably and securely.
- Ultra-fast charging: requiring approximately 90 seconds via adaptable, resilient, and durable, on-site, ultrafast charge-points, which offer vehicles uninterrupted operation in the most demanding situations.
- On-board energy storage: by combining innovative battery and capacitor technologies designed to provide extended lifespan, high performance, and ultra-fast charging
Therefore, mining companies will gain from an integrated electrical system that:
- is compatible across various original equipment manufacturer (OEM) models, providing mining operators with additional flexibility;
- is end-to-end, from electron generation to drive train delivery;
- is modularly designed so that mining companies can customize solutions to their particular needs;
- reduces carbon emissions while maintaining operational effectiveness and safety.
Alliance Automation, Worley, and Spirae will oversee power distribution, enabling the installation of several charging stations throughout the facility. Carnegie Robotics, Stäubli, and Heliox will develop fast-charging systems to enable rapid energy transmission to vehicles. Microvast and Skeleton Technologies will manufacture the on-board batteries for the trucks.
SuperBattery: A Ground Breaking Innovation to Decarbonize Mining Vehicles
The lengthy recharging time of the batteries is a key obstacle for electric vehicles in most industries. Another obstacle in dealing with heavy machinery is finding space for heavy trucks to park while they charge.
However, these obstacles are addressed by what Sebastian Pohlmann, vice president of Skeleton Technologies, refers to as SuperBattery energy storage.
SuperBattery is a revolutionary technology that combines the useful properties of super-capacitors and batteries. It was designed to meet the demands of a wide range of industries and is now being used in hybrid and fuel-cell electric cars, trucks, buses, and charging infrastructure.
SuperBattery has various advantages that make it a good fit for Shell's integrated electrification solutions for off-road mining vehicles. Skeleton technologies' revolutionary Curved Graphene material enables 100 times quicker charging than traditional Lithium-ion batteries and is also free of rare Earth metals.
The groundbreaking, superfast charging time of 90 seconds far outpaces the standard vehicle charge time of 6.5 hours. In addition, it has a lifespan of 50,000 cycles and is free from copper, cobalt, graphite, and nickel, making it safer than Li-ion batteries, even when pierced, overheated, or crushed.
Recharging occurs when the haul truck is loaded or unloaded, allowing it to work around the clock. A SuperBattery-equipped haul truck can provide more productivity than its diesel-powered equivalent under the appropriate circumstances.
SuperBattery fills a technical void in the power storage industry by supplying peak power and rapid charging. It is ideal for applications with less than 30 minutes run times because of its lower cost and carbon footprint.
Future of Electric Mining Vehicles
Electrification gives off-road industries an immediate opportunity to transition away from their long-standing dependency on diesel. This is crucial for hard-to-control industries such as mining, where mobile equipment accounts for 40% to 50% of CO2 emissions.
By 2030, electric mine haul trucks are predicted to have a lower total cost of ownership, 20% lower maintenance expenses, and 40 % lower fuel expenditures than diesel trucks.
SuperBattery is not limited to the electrification of mine haul trucks, but it can stabilize the grid of mines and electrify wheel loaders and other machines.
Shell electrification solutions work across the mining value chain, from transportation to processing and beyond, to discover and implement decarbonization methods and solutions that unleash sustainable practices and efficient operations.
Reference and Further Readings
Charge On Innovation Challenge. (2022). Electrifying Mining. [Online]. Available at: https://chargeoninnovation.com/ (Accessed on 24 October 2022).
Farmer, M. (2022). Shell Coalition to Develop Fast-Charging Electric Trucks. [Online]. Mining Technology. Available at: https://www.mining-technology.com/news/company-news/fast-charging-electric-mine-vehicles-shell-coalition/ (Accessed on 24 October 2022).
GCC. (2022). Shell Forms Consortium to Accelerate the Electrification of Off-Road Mining Vehicles. [Online]. Green Car Congress. Available at: https://www.greencarcongress.com/2022/10/20221013-shellmining.html (Accessed on 24 October 2022).
GCC. (2022). Skeleton launches SuperBattery with Shell as partner; Electrification for Mining. [Online]. Green Car Congress. Available at: https://www.greencarcongress.com/2022/10/20221013-skel.html (Accessed on 24 October 2022).
Muralidharan, R., Kirk, T., & Blank, K. (2022). Pulling the Weight of Heavy Truck Decarbonization. [Report]. Rocky Mountain Institute. Available at: https://rmi.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/rmi-pulling-the-weight-of-heavy-truck-decarbonization.pdf (Accessed on 24 October 2022).