Caterpillar switches on first battery-electric mining haul truck

With its Arizona proving grounds outside Tucson, Ariz., serving as a backdrop, Caterpillar has demonstrated its first battery-electric 793 model large mining truck as it announced an investment into the campus as a sustainable testing and validation hub of the future. 

The development of the 793 prototype came with support from key mining customers participating in Caterpillar’s Early Learner program. Participants of the program with definitive electrification agreements include BHP, Freeport-McMoRan, Newmont Corporation, Rio Tinto and Teck Resources.

“Our global team came together to develop this battery truck at an accelerated pace to help our customers meet their sustainability commitments,” said Resource Industries Group President Denise Johnson. “This demonstration is a significant milestone, and we are excited for these trucks to get to work at customers’ sites around the world in the near future.”

The Early Learner program, launched in 2021, focuses on accelerating the development and validation of the OEM’s battery electric trucks at participating customers’ sites.

“This approach supports the individual commitments each Early Learner participant has made to reduce and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from their operations,” the company said, adding that its main objective is to collaborate more closely with customers as the industry undergoes transformational change through the energy transition. 

The Early Learner customers convened at the proving grounds to witness a live demonstration of Caterpillar’s prototype battery truck on a 7-kilometer (4.3-mile) course. During the event, Caterpillar monitored over 1,100 data channels, gathering 110,000 data points per second, to validate simulation and engineering modeling capabilities.

Fully loaded to its rated capacity, the truck achieved a top speed of 60 km/h (37.3 mph). The loaded truck traveled 1 kilometer (0.62 mile) up a 10% grade at 12 km/h (7.5 mph). The truck also performed a 1 kilometer (0.62 mile) run on a 10% downhill grade, capturing the energy that would normally be lost to heat and regenerating that energy to the battery. Upon completing the entire run, the truck maintained enough battery energy to perform additional complete cycles. 

The prototype, also built at Caterpillar’s Tucson Proving Ground, is part of its investment to transform to a working, sustainable “mine site of the future” by installing and utilizing a variety of renewable energy sources.

“The transformation of the Tucson Proving Ground allows Caterpillar to demonstrate our energy transition commitments and serve as a stronger advisor to customers as we navigate the changes together. We know it will take an integrated, site-level solution for miners to achieve their carbon-reduction goals, and we’re here to help as they redefine the way they mine for generations to come,” Johnson said. 

As part of the transformation of the site, Cat will install sustainability technology advancements such as green hydrogen production, natural gas and 100% hydrogen reciprocating engine power generation, fuel cell power generation and expanded energy storage systems, along with leveraged use of renewable power sources including wind, solar and hydrogen for powering the facility and products.

“The transformation of the facility will also serve as a learning platform for optimizing charging and energy management integration,” Johnson noted.

Source: Caterpillar

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