Komatsu has announced plans to develop hydrogen power as an fuel alternative for its heavy-duty mining dump trucks.
An industry first, Komatsu will start its hydrogen development program in 2021 and aims to have the trucks ready for practical use by 2030.
Some mining trucks run on electricity from overhead power lines, but most are diesel-powered.
Using hydrogen as a fuel has the benefit of letting zero-emissions trucks travel on routes where power lines do not reach.
Weighing 600 tons or more when loaded, mining trucks are huge even compared with buses. In terms of hydrogen power, they present a different level of technical challenges than everyday fuel cell vehicles.
Costs pose another hurdle and Komatsu is planning to procure fuel cells for its hydrogen-powered trucks from outside suppliers.
Fuel cell stacks used in electricity generation are expensive. But mass production is expected to bring down their prices if they are used in a broader range of applications.
The multinational corporation has already made inroads in electrifying its trucks. It is looking to begin mass production as early as 2023.
Image and content: Paul H. Trantow/Nikkei Asian Review