After being announced as one of eight selected technology vendors to progress in the Charge On™ Innovation Challenge, Hitachi Energy has revealed a bit more about the solution it is preparing to present to interested mining companies, OEMs and investors as part of the next phase of the challenge.
Founded by BHP, Rio Tinto and Vale, together with multiple industry patrons, the Charge On Innovation Challenge has seen the world’s mining industry unite to solve one of the biggest challenges in decarbonising mining operations: the electrification of haul trucks.
Hitachi Energy put forward a proposal that met with the judges’ rigorous criteria for interoperable solutions, it said. The flexible solution design enables electricity to be safely delivered to large battery-powered off-road electric haul trucks, while maintaining or improving productivity levels. The end-to-end solution connects the mine’s electrical grid directly to its haul trucks and other vehicles, such as excavators.
Advanced power electronics and digital technologies are key to the design of Hitachi Energy’s innovative solution to electrify the haul trucks, it said.
The solution, which leverages Grid-eMotion™ Flash – a pioneering solution for sustainable e-mobility that is already in use in mass transport applications – is billed as being able to deliver 8 MW of power to enable vehicles to be charged in just three minutes.
The charging process is carried out in a safe way at the points of loading and unloading, with the Flash charging meaning trucks can operate 24/7, according to the company. Hitachi Energy also delivers an interoperable, flexible Energy Transfer System (ETS) that is free of any catenary infrastructure, it says.
Matt Zafuto, VP, Industry Solutions, Hitachi Energy, told IM that these are ruggedised solutions adapted for mine sites.
“One important difference between the mining application and the mass transit solution is that the wayside infrastructure and ETS are mobile and can be easily moved as the mine site changes,” he said. “In a mass transit environment, this level of mobility of the wayside infrastructure isn’t a consideration.”
He added that all live parts associated with the charging poles will be at a safe height overhead in order to ensure proper safety measures are in place at the mine site.
When asked about expectations surrounding the haul truck run time on three minutes of charging at 8 MW, Zafuto said: “The specifications that were provided to us required us to comply with a 30-minute total cycle time, of which three minutes were associated with charging.”
To further optimise energy use across the mine, Hitachi Energy says it is also able to deliver a full solution, including its innovative e-mesh™ digital solutions for e-mobility, which offers end-to-end distributed energy solutions, combining advanced analytics, software technology and hardware systems. Additionally, a holistic and detailed monitoring and control solution for the charging process and the grid connection system will be available, as will a range of remote and on-site services to support the transition to the new technologies and the efficient operation of the new infrastructure.
The current schedule for the charging solution has field trials commencing in 2023, transitioning to pilot test periods at a chosen mine site, beginning in 2024, Zafuto confirmed.
“We have spoken to multiple truck OEMs who have verbally confirmed the feasibility of our solution design and we are in the process of forming our consortium, which will include multiple OEMs,” he said. “A mine site has not yet been selected but will come out of the consortium planning phase, which begins in July 2022.”
Gerhard Salge, CTO of Hitachi Energy, said the Charge On Innovation Challenge represented another great example of how the company was collaborating with whole industries to accelerate the energy transition towards a carbon-neutral future.
“Hitachi Energy’s proposal is for an innovative haul truck 24/7 electrification solution that will help the world’s mining industry to decarbonise without compromising on productivity,” he said. “Electricity will be the backbone of the entire energy system and together with customers and partners, Hitachi Energy is pioneering technologies and software for advancing a sustainable energy future for all.”
Noaman Amjad, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer Hitachi Energy, said: “We are very pleased to have been selected as one of the winning proposals and that Hitachi Energy’s solution has been recognised as meeting with the spirit of interoperability as requested by the patrons. We intend to make our solution available to all truck OEMs interested – a solution that’s built on the solid competence and deep insight of our mining, e-mobility, digital and power systems experts and that will lead to the electrification and decarbonisation of mining.”