Major OEMs investigate alternative fuels

Sandvik and Caterpillar have made significant strides in alternative fuels for mining applications, including hydrogen-treated vegetable oil (HVO) to replace diesel and hydrogen-powered haul trains.

Sandvik has partnered with Finning – Caterpillar’s largest dealer in the world, catering to parts of South America, Canada and the United Kingdom – to test HVO in C series Cat engines.

HVO is a renewable synthetic diesel and the companies found it to be interchangeable with diesel while reducing carbon emissions by up to 90 per cent.

“The HVO we use is only made from renewable feedstocks certified by the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC),” Sandvik stated.

“Its performance is similar to regular diesel, so your power output and uptime are not compromised.”

The use of hydrogen in this fuel also improves the shelf life of HVO compared to conventional diesel, according to Sandvik.

Most conveniently, the transition to HVO from diesel is as simple as buying a different bottle.

“Since no iron or system changes are required, it can be considered a drop-in replacement for diesel,” Sandvik stated.

At Cat headquarters, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between Caterpillar, Chevron USA, Progress Rail (a Caterpillar subsidiary) and BNSF Railway Company.

The companies will collaborate to develop hydrogen-powered line-haul and other rail services.

The MOU will progress in three stages, beginning with Progress Rail design and building a prototype hydrogen fuel cell locomotive.

Chevron will then develop a fuelling concept and infrastructure to support the vehicle.

BNSF, which operates one of the largest rail networks in North America, will facilitate the testing of the end product.

Caterpillar group president of energy and transportation Joe Creed said a deep pool of experience was being accessed across company lines to get this technology moving.

“Caterpillar has made great strides in moving our advanced power technology forward.  Our Progress Rail team will leverage that knowledge and experience toward a hydrogen fuel cell locomotive,” Creed said.

“Working with Chevron and BNSF will allow us to advance hydrogen technology across the industry.”

BNSF Environmental vice president John Lovenburg said not only would the environment thank this development, but so too would company’s bottom lines.

“This technology could one day be a lower-carbon solution for line-haul service, as it has the potential to reduce carbon emissions and remain cost competitive,” Lovenburg said.

Timing for the pilot test will be announced as details of the MOU are finalised, including regulatory approvals.

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