General Motors (GM) and Komatsu are partnering to design, validate, and co-develop a hydrogen fuel cell power module for Komatsu's 930E electric drive mining truck with a nominal payload of 320 tons.
Hydrogen fuel cells are known for being lightweight and quick to refuel, making them ideal for electrifying projects and equipment traditionally powered by diesel engines. Hydrogen also allows a vehicle to hold a large quantity of energy onboard without compromising payload-carrying capacity.
Additionally, because these vehicles typically operate at a single mining site throughout their lifespan, it simplifies the challenges of sizing and deploying an effective hydrogen refueling infrastructure to service the vehicle fleet.
“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.”
GM and Komatsu hope their fuel cell-powered mining trucks will also provide a pathway to decarbonization for other technologies, such as battery-trolley or battery-static charging solutions, without the need for additional charging infrastructures within the mines.
The two partnering companies plan to test the first prototype of the HYDROTEC-powered mining vehicle in the mid-2020s at Komatsu's Arizona Proving Grounds research and development facility. The vehicle will be powered by over 2 MW of HYDROTEC power cubes.
“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.”
This project directly aligns with Komatsu's goal of reducing its global emissions by 50% and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. The company's decarbonization plans also include reducing and eliminating emissions within its product offerings as well as in the company's facilities and during product production. Komatsu also works with its customers to reduce and eliminate emissions during product use by providing optimization programs supported by the company's technology and service solutions.