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Hydrogen hybrid road trains tackling the Pilbara

To reduce diesel consumption and emissions, two Holcim triple road trains – used to haul up to 100 tonnes of payload in the Pilbara – have been converted to hydrogen hybrids.

Holcim Australia uses its road trains to transport quarry materials from the Turner River, Newman and Nickol Bay quarries in the Pilbara region to fixed and mobile concrete batch plants and other customers.

The triple road trains are pulled by Scania R620 V8 Euro 5 145-ton rated prime movers and travel distances that range anywhere between 10 to 600 kilometres.

As part of Holcim’s ambition to reduce its Scope 3 emissions, two of these Scanias have been retrofitted with a HYDI Hydrogen on Demand HY2500 vertical unit that produces hydrogen on demand for controlled delivery to internal combustion engines.

Since being put to work, these trucks have seen reductions in fuel consumption of up to 15 per cent, among other benefits.

As logistics manager for aggregates Western Australia at Holcim, Adam Evans, explained, “On top of the fuel consumption figures, excitingly, we’re seeing the additional emission reductions of 17 per cent less carbon dioxide (CO2), 80 per cent lower diesel particulate matter (DPM), 22 per cent lower nitrogen oxides (NOX), and 25 per cent lower carbon monoxide (CO).”

Robert Taylor, Scania Australia general manager – mining, added, “Holcim has seen fuel performance savings estimated at 15 per cent when hauling payloads up to 100-tonnes in three-trailer combinations. The Scania onboard management system confirms these figures. The reductions in fuel burn and reductions in emissions, is entirely in line with our aim at Scania to reduce emissions during the entire working lives of our products.”

Holcim plans to install HYDI systems in another two of its prime movers. Image: Scania Australia

Holcim plans to install HYDI systems in two additional prime movers as well as some of its contractor fleet throughout Western Australia. “We are also exploring options to have HYDI units installed on other equipment including diesel generators and heavy mining equipment,” said Adam.

The HYDI unit produces hydrogen from distilled water using electrolysis via a proton exchange membrane. The unit draws a low electrical input from the host engine while in operation. Hydrogen supplements the diesel fuel to create a cleaner and more complete combustion process with the amount of hydrogen produced optimised for the capacity and application of the engine.

Developed in Australia over more than a decade, the leading-edge technology is said to deliver improved machinery performance by increasing torque, a reduction in fuel consumption, cleaner burn that reduces engine soot and extends oil and filter service intervals, and lower harmful emissions – including DPM, CO2 and CO. The system provides the capability to transition heavy, diesel-powered machinery into cleaner, more cost-efficient equipment at a fraction of the cost of replacement.

“HYDI’s technology harnesses the benefits of hydrogen in an efficient, affordable and sophisticated way scaled to apply to multiple applications,” noted John Wilson, managing director of HYDI.

Scania has been a committed partner in the trial and are honouring the original repair and maintenance package provided with the vehicles. “Scania stepped up to the project, made sure we had all the vehicle and system information needed for a smooth installation of the HYDI units, and are eager to help us extend the project even further,” Adam added.

The HYDI Hydrogen on Demand system can be simply, quickly and relatively inexpensively integrated into the existing diesel technology of Scania vehicles.

Ad Robert explained, “In Australia we have to say that realistically the general availability of reliable, affordable hydrogen as a fuel for heavy haulage is still some way off, particularly regarding use in remote mining operations. As a result, the HYDI Hydrogen on Demand solution does appear to be providing a real-world and affordable solution for our customers who want or need to make an immediate reduction in fuel burn and their carbon footprint emissions across their transport functions.”

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