Existing stationary charging solutions are too slow and can’t charge a massive battery-electric powered truck within its haul cycle. The Charge On Innovation Challenge is aimed at attracting both traditional and nontraditional vendors to develop commercializable solutions to the problem.

The Charge On Innovation Challenge, a competition sponsored by BHP, Rio Tinto, Vale and other mining industry patrons interested in accelerating commercialization of solutions for fast-charging large electric haul trucks, recently chose eight contestants’ submissions for further consideration. The finalists will collaborate with mining companies, OEMs and investors to support the future roll-out of zero-emissions fleets, according to contest sponsors.

The eight finalists include ABB, Ampcontrol and Tritium (Australia), BluVein XL, DB Engineering & Consulting with Echion Technologies, Hitachi Energy, Shell Consortium, Siemens Off-board power supply, and 3ME Technology.

The challenge, launched in 2021, invited vendors and technology innovators to work with the mining industry to present novel electric truck charging solutions. The challenge received interest from more than 350 companies across 19 industries, with more than 80 companies submitting expressions of interest). Twenty-one companies were then invited to present a detailed pitch of their solution. The final eight were chosen from these 21 companies.

GHD, a professional services company, facilitated the Charge On Innovation Challenge and will support the next step — the process of establishing consortia to drive testing of preferred technologies. GHD’s role builds on the work of Austmine to launch the challenge, which attracted a number of supporting organizations, OEMs and investors.

The crux of the challenge is that diesel-powered haul truck fleets are responsible for up to 80% of a mine’s emissions, but electrifying them requires charging systems capable of delivering energy at unprecedented power levels during operations. Here are thumbnail descriptions of the various approaches proposed by the finalists.

ABB said by applying its ABB Ability eMine framework of methods and solutions, it can provide a dual-charging system solution for stationary and in-motion charging that leverages standardized infrastructure and onboard systems and components.

Ampcontrol and Tritium’s mining haul truck battery swap solution is described as an end-to-end, ultra-fast modular recharging station that is fully automated, relocatable, scalable and cell agnostic. In this drive-in/drive-out approach, an autonomous transfer robot swaps batteries in 90 seconds.

BluVeinXL offered a dynamic charging technology solution for heavy battery electric vehicles in open-pit mining and safely, which enables the ability for grid power to be used to power the electric drive motors and charge the onboard vehicle battery simultaneously.

DB Engineering & Consulting (DB E&C) and Echion Technologies said they developed a Catenary and Advanced Battery Technology system that combines proven rail industry technology with cutting edge XNO battery chemistry.

Hitachi Energy (see sidebar page 68) proposed a solution that said it addresses the sustainability needs of the mining industry without compromising the productivity of the mine. Using Grid-eMotion Flash, the proposed solution will rapidly and safely charge the haul trucks’ batteries in just a few minutes, according to the company. A holistic and detailed monitoring and control solution for the charging process and the grid connection system is provided by its e-mesh digital solutions for e-mobility.

Shell Consortium’s approach combines a high-powered battery solution with ultra-fast charging and a standardized microgrid energy system.

Siemens’ patented solution combines a proven off-board energy source (trolley substation and overhead catenary) with onboard energy storage (LTO batteries) capable of dynamic 6C and more than 400 kWh in-cycle charging while simultaneously providing increased power to the wheels to decrease overall cycle time and increase productivity.

3ME Technology’s solution is described as a purpose-refined version of its novel Bladevolt Battery System to fit the requirements of haul truck operations. The Bladevolt XL system will be scalable to fit varied truck sizes, cost-effective and compliant with the proposed charging infrastructure, as well as enabled to capture and analyze critical data that will help improve operations going forward, the company said.