Mega Mover dump trucks have been used in open pit mining as a means to save money; larger trucks require fewer trips with larger loads and reduced fuel costs. As fuel prices continue to climb GE (General Electric), with additional funding from the US Department of Energy, has been working to include hybrid technology in these mega movers. As many of the huge mining trucks already have diesel generators and electric motors as their motive power adding regeneration technology and rugged battery packs would seem the only hurdle.
Testing of the hybrid system has already been conducted and the project to date has had favorable results. Tim Richter, from GE’s Hybrid Systems division, indicated in his blog about the Off-Highway Vehicle, mega dump truck test that the next step is to determine how to best utilize the batteries of stored energy and to determine the length of service that can be expected from the batteries.
As the regenerative breaking electricity is stored in the batteries of the vehicle determining the best application for the energy during operation will be the next objective. Whether the power is reserved for increased boost for powering the truck up steep grades or for increased torque from a standing start, or both, will require more testing.
They will also need to test the types of batteries available under the harsh conditions found in open pit mining. Effects from the jostling along rough terrain, the impact of loads dumped into the working truck, and the dust and mud that can be found under mining conditions will all require further research.
The costs related to a hybrid system are always a concern, but with fuel prices ever increasing the fuel savings found in hybrid vehicles is gaining favor. What the exact savings will be with the hybrid system in these mega trucks is not specified. The Chevy Tahoe 3-Mode Hybrid System resulted in a 50% increase in fuel mileage and earned it the 2007 Green Car of the Year award at the LA Auto Show. GE’s target output and fuel savings for the hybrid project is not mentioned, but if they can achieve a similar result it would seem a safe bet that the technology will be implemented with haste to help battle the costs of rising fuel.