Shell has become the latest Charge On Innovation Challenge winner to unveil details about its electric haul truck charging solution, outlining how its consortium of partners intend to combine an end-to-end and interoperable electrification system that reduces emissions without compromising on efficiency or safety, while aiming to be cost competitive versus diesel-powered operation.
The Charge On Innovation Challenge was launched in 2021 and invited vendors and technology innovators from around the world and across industries to collaborate with the mining industry to present novel electric truck charging solutions. The challenge received interest from over 350 companies across 19 industries, with more than 80 companies submitting expressions of interest. Twenty-one companies were then invited to present a detailed pitch of their solution, with the final eight – which included the Shell Consortium – chosen to progress from these 21.
The global challenge, launched by BHP, Rio Tinto and Vale, sought to accelerate commercialisation of effective solutions for charging large electric haul trucks while simultaneously demonstrating there is an emerging market for these solutions in mining.
The Charge On Innovation Challenge requested international solution providers to put forward charging concepts that are:
- Designed with safety as the number one priority, using inherent defensive design and future-proof principles;
- Able to supply a battery for 220-t payload electric haul trucks;
- Capable of supplying 400 kW hours of electricity to a truck during each haul cycle;
- Able to provide battery charging, or both propulsion and battery charging;
- Cost effective, minimising complexity without reducing productivity; and
- Interoperable, allowing different haul truck manufacturers to utilise the same charging infrastructure.
On a media call this week, Shell highlighted how its consortium of nine partners was working on a solution that could not only meet this brief, but also provide a commercial offering to electrify mining and other industries.
Skeleton, Microvast, Stäubli, Carnegie Robotics, Heliox, Spirae, Alliance Automation, Worley and Shell have come together to introduce Shell’s mining electrification solutions for off-road vehicles. This consists of:
- Power provisioning and microgrids, with the aim to provide a consistent and reliable supply of renewable power in a safe and stable manner;
- Ultra-fast charging whereby an approximate 90-second charge via flexible, hardwearing and resilient, on-site, ultrafast charge-points can provide assets with continuous operation of some 20-30 minutes depending on the haulage profile; and
- In-vehicle energy storage: through a combination of advanced battery and capacitor technologies that aim to deliver long lifetimes, ultra-fast charging and high performance.
Some of the key components of the power provision and energy management solution come from Alliance Automation, a multi-disciplined industrial automation and electrical engineering company; Spirae, a technology company that develops solutions for integrating renewable and distributed energy resources within microgrids and power systems for economic optimisation, resiliency enhancement and decarbonisation; Worley, an engineering company that provides project delivery and consulting services to the resources and energy sectors, and complex process industries; and Shell Energy, which provides innovative, reliable and cleaner energy solutions through a portfolio of gas, power, environmental products and energy efficiency offers to businesses and residential customers.
The ultra-fast charging element involves solutions from Carnegie Robotics, a provider of rugged sensors, autonomy software and platforms for defence, agriculture, mining, marine, warehouse and energy applications; Heliox, a leader in fast charging systems within public transport, e-trucks, marine, mining and port equipment; and Stäubli, a global industrial and mechatronic solution provider with four dedicated divisions: electrical connectors, fluid connectors, robotics and textile.
Finally, Skeleton, a global technology leader in fast energy storage for automotive, transportation, grid and industrial applications, and Microvast, a leader in the design, development and manufacture of battery solutions for mobile and stationary applications, are in charge of the in-vehicle energy storage side of things.
As a result of this collaboration, mining operators, Shell says, are set to benefit from an integrated electrification solution that:
- Is end-to-end, covering the full journey of the electron from generation to delivery in the drivetrain;
- Is interoperable between different original equipment manufacturer make and models, giving mining operators greater flexibility;
- Is modular in design to allow mining customers the opportunity to tailor solutions to their specific needs; and
- Reduces emissions without compromising on operational efficiency or safety.
Sebastian Pohlmann, Skeleton Technologies’ Vice President Automotive & Business Development, revealed more details about the plans for the in-vehicle energy storage part of the equation, confirming that the fast energy storage solution set to be fitted on these 220-t payload haul trucks would leverage its SuperBattery.
The SuperBattery, Pohlmann said, offers a 100 times faster charging option compared with standard lithium-ion batteries, while also being free of cobalt, nickel, graphite and copper materials. He also mentioned that a SuperBattery-equipped haul truck could, in the right situation, offer higher utilisation than its diesel-powered equivalent.
The SuperBattery is due to start production in 2024, with Pohlmann saying the battery lined up for a prototype system as part of the Shell Consortium would weigh in at just over 12 tonnes. He also highlighted the potential for other applications in mining outside of 220 t haul trucks with this platform.
The ultra-fast charging solution that the consortium partners were working on assumed a peak power delivery of 24 MW, Pohlmann said, explaining that the charge points would be positioned around areas where haul trucks normally come to a stop – during dumping or loading, for instance – meaning charging would not interrupt the haul cycle and ensure high utilisation of the truck at all times.
With such a high power draw envisaged by the partners, Grischa Sauerberg, Vice President, Sectoral Decarbonisation & Innovation at Shell, explained that a stationary power element – renewable energy and battery storage – may also be provided if the grid power available cannot support such a peak draw.
The commercial offering from the partners is expected in 2025, however Sauerberg confirmed a pilot solution was set to be tested at a Shell facility in Hamburg, Germany, next year, followed by final field trials at selected mine sites in 2024.