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Green hydrogen mine mobility on way in India to platinum applause

Anglo American's large nuGen zero emissions haulage solution.

Anglo American's large nuGen zero emissions haulage solution.

Photo by Creamer Media

19th January 2023

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – India has opted for hydrogen fuel-cell heavy-duty mine truck mobility in a green initiative that will have platinum group metals (PGMs) miners applauding.

This is because the clean emission-free power will come from proton exchange membrane, or PEM, technology, which is PGMs-enabled.

Indian multinational conglomerate Adani Group, headquartered in Ahmedabad, is the latest champion in the fight against climate change destruction, with Adani Enterprises Limited (AEL), Canada’s Ballard Power Systems and Ashok Leyland teaming up to develop the pioneering heavy-duty zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) for India.

Earlier, Adani unveiled plans to invest $50-billion-plus in green hydrogen, amid growing recognition being given to the contribution of PGMs-linked PEM water electrolysis to zero-emission decarbonisation. On the cards is the production of three-million tons of green hydrogen a year.

India’s National Green Hydrogen Mission is targeting net zero in manufacturing operations by 2035.

The 28-page document proposes to support deployment of FCEVs by closing the viability gap created by the relatively higher capital cost of FCEVs in initial years.

The document also outlines timeframes for subsidisation of green hydrogen production and electrolyser manufacture.

Indian and international media reported on Thursday that AEL would lead the planned hydrogen-powered fuel cell mining truck advance, with Ballard providing its FCmove™ fuel cell engine for the hydrogen truck and Ashok Leyland the vehicle platform.

The 55 t truck, with a 200 km working range, will be powered by 120 kW PEM fuel cell technology, which Ballard Power Systems CEO Randy MacEwen described as having rapid refuelling and heavy payload capabilities.

According to Adani Natural Resources CEO and AEL director Vinay Prakash, the project is in alignment with Adani Group chairperson Gautam Adani’s vision to accelerate hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology.

Ashok Leyland CTO Dr Natarajan Saravanan highlighted what he described as Adani’s unwavering dedication to hydrogen as being an opportunity for India to decarbonise.

Hydrogen, the most abundant element, is a versatile, zero-emission energy carrier with a high energy density. It can also be stored in large quantities and for long periods.

The Hydrogen Council estimates that hydrogen could represent 18% of global energy demand by 2050.

PGMs, which are essential in cleaning up the noxious gases from the internal combustion engine, are now also playing a growing role in the emerging hydrogen economy, in both FCEVs and in water electrolysis to produce green hydrogen.

“If we indeed work together, we can speed up the energy transition and make the green hydrogen economy a reality in the near future,” South Africa’s Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Blade Nzimande stated during a just energy transition webinar last month, which was attended by European Commission Joint Research Centre director-general Stephen Quest, UK High Commissioner Antony Phillipson and representatives of neighbouring African States intent on exporting their sunshine in the form of green hydrogen.

SOUTH AFRICA’S ZERO-EMISSION HAULAGE SOLUTION

In South Africa, mining company Anglo American last year launched the large nuGen zero emissions haulage solution (ZEHS) hydrogen-powered mine haul truck – a 220 t truck with a load capacity of 290 t, providing a total laden weight of 510 t.

The ZEHS ecosystem to generate and store hydrogen at the Mogalakwena PGMs mine, in Limpopo, includes a 3.5 MW twin-compressor water electrolyser and hydrogen storage tanks, with 800 kg of capacity at 500 bars of pressure.

The hydrogen dispenser is capable of moving 4 kg of hydrogen a minute at 250 bars of pressure.

The London- and Johannesburg-listed Anglo is intent on decarbonising its entire global fleet of 400 trucks in this way, as well as providing critical supporting refuelling, recharging and hydrogen production infrastructure.

Earlier this month, Nikola Corporation of the US announced the development of a heavy-duty, 700 bar mobile hydrogen fueller of FCEVs.

Nikola CEO Michael Lohscheller spoke of the new mobile fuellers complementing the company’s permanent hydrogen fuelling stations, which are being developed.

WIDESPREAD GREEN HYDROGEN ADVANCEMENT

The European Union this week unveiled more grant funding, this time €195-million, for clean hydrogen research and innovation projects, dovetailing with the Clean Hydrogen Partnership’s call for proposals covering 26 topics, including liquid hydrogen refuelling, underground hydrogen storage, and creating value from the oxygen and heat electrolysis byproducts.

In addition, Brazil’s largest nitrogen fertiliser producer Unigel reported this week that it is planning a ten-fold expansion of its integrated green hydrogen and green ammonia project under construction in Bahia state — a scheme that, if realised, would cost $1.5-billion and make it one of the biggest green hydrogen projects in Latin America.

The Australian government this week laid out $49-million cash for Queensland’s green hydrogen hub and the US, Canada and Mexico agreed to develop a clean hydrogen market in North America.

South Korea is  taking steps to create six hydrogen cities that will use hydrogen in buildings and transport as part of daily life. The government's $193-milion investment will see fuel cells powering buildings and new hydrogen pipelines, filling stations and vehicles.

In Greenland, a plan has been unveiled to produce green hydrogen and green ammonia on a ship connected to a 1.5 GW wind farm. The PXFloater vessel allows green hydrogen and green ammonia to be produced in places where renewable energy is cheapest without huge investment in permanent onshore facilities.

In the UK, a consortium including Fortescue Future Industries of Australia and Siemens Energy of Germany has begun work in Newcastle on a new £3.5-million ammonia cracker prototype designed to produce green hydrogen.

Hydrogen Europe CEO Jorgo Chatzimarkakis reported that more than 100  Croatian stakeholders interested in the hydrogen economy, have attended a meeting organised by the chamber of economy in Zagreb. In addition to its advantage of having a long coast-line, Croatia has potential in use geothermal energy for the production of green hydrogen.

Chatzimarkakis also noted the extensive travelling done by German Vice-Chancellor and Minister on Energy and Climate Robert Habeck to sign strategic green hydrogen agreements with a special focus on to satisfy the projected need for climate neutral green molecules.

South Africa is calculated to have the potential to generate between six-million tonnes and 13-million tonnes of green hydrogen and green hydrogen derivatives by 2050, an output which would require from 140 GW to 300 GW of renewable energy.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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