The mining dump truck business, which was traditionally very conservative, is now beginning to embrace the worldwide trend toward the electrification of all vehicles. Caterpillar, a well-known American manufacturer of bulldozers and other excavators, has developed an electric version of its heavy mining truck.
The 793 Electric, a “serious work” dump truck equipped with a 2,650-horsepower electric motor, served as the template for the world’s first dump truck whose primary “fuel” source was ‘generated electricity’. It is an electric version of its monstrous 2,650-horsepower mining truck.
Caterpillar is in no hurry to reveal the rest of the features of its own design, but one thing is certain: during the test “run,” 265 tonnes of conditional cargo packed into the “giant’s” body. The truck reached its maximum speed of 60 kilometres (37.3 mph) per hour when it was completely loaded up to the capacity rated for it. At a speed of 12 kilometres per hour (7.5 mph), the laden truck climbed a slope of 10% for a distance of one kilometre (0.62 miles). During this run, the energy that would have normally been wasted on heat was instead captured and used to recharge the battery. After finishing the entire course, the truck’s batteries still had enough energy left over to allow it to run future cycles in their entirety.
The Early learner program
Caterpillar developed the first battery electric 793 prototype with the assistance of important mining clients who participated in Caterpillar’s Early Learner programme. BHP, Freeport-McMoRan, Newmont Corporation, Rio Tinto, and Teck Resources Limited are some companies participating in the programme and have signed definitive electrification agreements.
The Early Learner initiative was initiated in 2021 and is geared toward accelerating the development and validation of battery electric trucks manufactured by Caterpillar at the locations of participating customers. The individual commitments that each Early Learner participant has made to decrease and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from their activities are bolstered by this approach. Because of the energy transition, one of the programme’s key goals is for Caterpillar to work more closely with its customers. This is because the industry is undergoing profound change due to the energy transition.
Caterpillar’s Early Learner programme’s customers gathered to watch a live demonstration of a prototype battery truck driven on a course spanning seven kilometres (4.3 miles). Caterpillar validated its simulation and engineering modelling skills during the incident by monitoring over 1,100 data channels and collecting 110,000 data points per second.
Green Valley, Arizona, is the location of Caterpillar’s Tucson Proving Ground, where the prototype truck was constructed. Caterpillar is making investments in the proving ground so that it can be converted into a “mining site of the future” that is both operational and environmentally friendly. This will be accomplished by installing and using a wide array of renewable energy sources. The intention is to put into practice the same environmentally responsible solutions that mining companies will use at their operations to gain first-hand knowledge of what is required to successfully operate an electrified mine site and provide effective support to customers as they go through the transition.
Caterpillar can demonstrate the firm’s commitment to the energy transition through the transformation of the Tucson Proving Ground, which enables the company to serve as a more effective advisor to customers as they navigate the changes together, said Denise Johnson, president of Resource Industries Group. He said the company is assisting miners as they redefine how they will mine for future generations. “We know it will take an integrated, site-level solution for miners to achieve their carbon-reduction goals,” he said, adding, “we are here to help as they do so.”
As part of the site’s transformation, the company plans to install the most recent innovations in environmentally friendly technology. Some of these innovations include the production of green hydrogen, the generation of power using natural gas and 100% hydrogen reciprocating engines, the generation of power using fuel cell systems, and expanded energy storage systems. When they become electrified, the plant and its products will be powered by a range of renewable power sources, such as wind, solar, and hydrogen, which will be utilised at the site. In addition, a learning platform for improving the integration of energy management and charging systems will be created as part of the facility’s transformation.
The corporation has been gradually increasing its use of electric vehicles. Previously, diesel-electric vehicles were used. The company launched a trolley system in 2020 that dramatically reduced the diesel engine emissions at the mine by substituting electricity for diesel during the most taxing portion of the truck’s operation cycle. Using a trolley to propel a 795F AC with a payload of 337 metric tonnes up an incline of 10 per cent as it ascended the ramp out of the pit saved up to 40 litres of diesel fuel every kilometre of the trolley line. The truck’s fuel and engine expenditures are lowered by more than 90 per cent while it is on a trolley.