Caterpillar demonstrated its first battery-powered mining truck recently at its proving ground in Arizona.
The prototype 793 rigid-frame dump truck performed its first live demonstration on a 4.3-mile course while it was fully loaded. (To get a peek of the truck in action, check out the video at the end of this article.)
Caterpillar reports that the battery-electric truck clocked a top speed of 37.3 mph on its 4.3-mile test, similar to the diesel model. It traveled .62 miles up a 10% grade at 7 mph and .62 miles downhill at a 10% grade. Cat says that on the downhill section the truck captured energy “that would normally be lost to heat” and returned it to the battery. This is a process known as regenerative braking in which energy lost when applying the brakes or taking pressure off the accelerator pedal is captured and used to recharge the battery.
“Upon completing the entire run, the truck maintained enough battery energy to perform additional complete cycles,” the company says. The company did not reveal further details about the prototype’s performance.
Cat also did not release specs on the truck. Its diesel counterpart has a payload of 265 tons. It weighs 89,000 pounds, making it the fifth largest of Cat’s eight mining truck models, and it has a 2,650-horsepower engine.
The electric 793 is the product of Caterpillar’s agreements with private companies to develop and deploy zero-emissions mining trucks. Companies involved in the project launched in 2021 – which Cat calls its Early Learning program – include BHP, Freeport-McMoRan, Newmont Corporation, Rio Tinto and Teck Resources Limited. The program also includes Cat customers who agree to test the zero-emission products being developed.
The goal of the program is to accelerate the development of Cat’s battery-electric trucks at participating customers’ sites, Cat says. The company says the program also enables it to collaborate with its customers as it develops products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Our global team came together to develop this battery truck at an accelerated pace to help our customers meet their sustainability commitments,” says Caterpillar Resource Industries Group President Denise Johnson. “This demonstration is a significant milestone, and we are excited for these trucks to get to work at customers’ sites around the world in the near future.”
The prototype was built at Caterpillar’s proving ground near Tucson, where the company is developing an “electrified mine site” to help mining companies meet carbon-reduction goals.
Battery-electric is not the only carbon-reduction technology to be developed at the proving ground. Cat says it is also studying green hydrogen production, natural gas and 100% hydrogen reciprocating engine power generation, fuel cell power generation and expanded energy storage systems. “The site will also leverage a variety of renewable power sources, including wind, solar and hydrogen, capable of powering the facility and its products as they become electrified,” the company says. “The transformation of the facility will also serve as a learning platform for optimizing charging and energy management integration.”
Cat released the video below showing the electric 793 in action: