Popular Mechanics (South Africa)

The world’s largest wheeled electric vehicle is a dump truck


WHO SAID electric vehicles can’t do hard labour? Meet Elektro Dumper, the biggest wheeled EV on the planet. eMining AG, a Swiss manufactur­er of smart constructi­on equipment, modified a standard Komatsu HD 605-7 truck, an off-highway vehicle used in quarries and mines, to operate entirely with electric energy. Plus, the thing recharges itself using rocks.

At 9.1 m long, 4.2 m wide, and 4.2 m tall, the ‘eDumper’ isn’t an obvious candidate for electrific­ation. But eMining AG didn’t just paint the stock dump truck green. The company also added a 600 kWh battery pack to the vehicle – enough to power six long-range Tesla Model S cars. Those lithium batteries tack on another 4 000 kg.

Here’s how it works: The eDumper weighs approximat­ely 41 tons and ascends a hill at, say, a 13 per cent grade. On the way back down, it’s now carrying 59 tons of

ore. To rectify that scenario, the truck’s regenerati­ve braking system actually recaptures the energy created by going downhill, refilling the battery’s charge for the next time the truck travels uphill.

For a crash course in regenerati­ve braking, think back to high school physics. Kinetic energy is created through motion, and potential energy is stored because of its placement relative to other objects. You can experience this in petrolpowe­red vehicles, too. The kinetic energy is created by a spark and the ignition, but while rolling down a hill, a vehicle creates more energy due to gravity.

Regenerati­ve braking, then, takes kinetic energy and transforms it into electrical potential energy that is stored back in the battery. Other factors – the truck’s weight, load, vertical position, and gravitatio­nal pull – dictate how much energy can be transforme­d and stored.

The same process is used in a few other electric vehicles, such as the Honda Clarity plug-in hybrid.

‘Rock trucks’ such as the Komatsu HD 605-7 haul marlstone, a type of lime-rich mudstone readily found in the sides of Swiss mountains. The cement trade relies on this raw material – these trucks transport it directly to their factories.

While the eDumper can go days without charging, an eMining AG rep says the truck still needs a good jolt from time to time if you put it through a rigorous workout. Frequently hitting the brakes, for example, may take up too much energy due to the mechanical parts moving.

While EVs are quickly proliferat­ing throughout the US, the serious work in the trades is still done by gas-guzzling diesel engines. And according to the World Economic Forum, an internatio­nal organisati­on for public-private cooperatio­n, heavy industry and transport will account for around 15.7 gigatons of carbon emissions by 2050, if left unchecked.

The eDumper is a good start, but it isn’t just a science experiment – it’s already hauling tons of rocks from a quarry on the slopes of the Chasseral to the Ciments Vigier SA cement factory near the Swiss town of Biel.

The eDumper’s tyres alone are more than
1.8 m tall.
/ BY COURTNEY LINDER / The eDumper’s tyres alone are more than 1.8 m tall.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa