The world’s largest hydrogen fuel cell electric car begins operation in South Africa

A two-megawatt hydrogen propulsion system, designed and built by First Mode in Seattle, is mounted on a dump truck that has started work at Anglo American’s platinum mine in Mogalakwena, South Africa. The machine is the world’s largest electric truck.

The 210-ton nuGen hydrogen fuel cell dump truck was based on a Komatsu 930E with a diesel-electric drivetrain in which a 16-cylinder engine acted as a generator to power the truck’s electric traction motors. Now that diesel engine is gone, and the truck’s traction motors are powered by eight 100 kW hydrogen fuel cell modules from Ballard and a 1.1 MW lithium-ion battery pack from Williams Advanced Engineering, integrated by First Mode in Seattle.

The urgent task before us demanded that we bring all the tools and all the technology to bear on climate change. I am so proud of the team and our partnership with Anglo American to decarbonize to bring about the meaningful and necessary change we are all striving for. We hope that this breakthrough in zero-emission clean energy will inspire others to take significant action in the fight for our planet.

Chris Voorhees, president and CEO of First Mode

The peak power of the fuel cell powertrain is 2 MW (2,682 hp). This is enough for the dumper to maintain a nominal payload of 300 tons. When fully loaded, the truck can weigh up to 510 tons. Hydrogen is produced using a 3.5 MW electrolyzer, and electricity will come from a 100 MW solar panel. At full operation, the system should produce up to a ton of hydrogen per day.

Anglo American claims that such large trucks account for up to 80% of diesel consumption at the mines, and large dump trucks can account for about 3% of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide.

The company plans to produce 40 such dump trucks by the end of this decade.

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