World’s Biggest Dump Truck Goes Electric

With four 1200-kW engines, it's more efficient and can carry a larger payload than ever before

2 min read
World’s Biggest Dump Truck Goes Electric
Photo: BelAZ Trucks

A massive vehicle that can haul loads weighing more than 500 metric tons—the equivalent of 350 VW Golfs—just hit the work site in Siberia, claiming the title of the world’s largest dump truck.

But it has another claim that makes it even more impressive: an electric drive motor. Electric-powered vehicles have been around to do heavy lifting in mines for years, but those trucks, known as trolley trucks, received their electricity from overhead power lines.

The Belarusian truck manufacturer BelAZ wanted the efficiency of the trolley trucks, but in a free-moving behemoth suitable for open pit mining.

BelAZ turned to Siemens to develop a truck in less than two years that could carry enormous loads at a lower cost per ton than previous models and reach speeds of up to 64 kilometers per hour when not carrying any load.

Siemens, which has been developing drive trains for open-pit mining vehicles for the past 15 years, came up with an all-wheel drive vehicle with four motors, each with an output of 1,200 kilowatts. All of that rolls on eight tires that can, together, handle up to 810 metric tons.

The BelAZ 75710 was also outfitted with new controls that were developed for the electric motors. The controls included features such as dynamic power distribution between the truck’s two axels and the ability to keep driving even if one of the motors fails. The AC electric drive is powered by two 16-cylindar-diesel engines that each have an output of about 1,700 kW. The truck is more than 20 meters long and nearly 10 meters wide.

Reducing the reliance on diesel by improving efficiency is important for mining trucks because of environmental regulations and cost competition, according to Siemens. Mining companies want to run trucks as many hours of the day as possible while still meeting environmental rules. BelAZ says the truck offers a productivity gain of 25 percent compared to the other large capacity trucks available on the market.

Mining is not the only industry looking at electric drive options for trucks. Garbage trucks have gone all electric in Beijing, as have buses in Vienna, Austria,  Nashville, Tenn., and elsewhere. Delivery trucks have also been electrified; FedEx has a fleet of electric trucks driven by diesel turbines.

Many of the heavy-duty vehicles that are going electric have set routes, so they’re drivers do not suffer from the same range anxiety of the typical commuter.

Siemens isn’t just working on electric drives for wheeled vehicles. It’s also interested in moving those wheeled vehicles across the water. The engineering giant introduced the world’s first electric-powered car ferry earlier this year in Norway.

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Practical Power Beaming Gets Real

A century later, Nikola Tesla’s dream comes true

8 min read
This nighttime outdoor image, with city lights in the background, shows a narrow beam of light shining on a circular receiver that is positioned on the top of a pole.

A power-beaming system developed by PowerLight Technologies conveyed hundreds of watts of power during a 2019 demonstration at the Port of Seattle.

PowerLight Technologies

Wires have a lot going for them when it comes to moving electric power around, but they have their drawbacks too. Who, after all, hasn’t tired of having to plug in and unplug their phone and other rechargeable gizmos? It’s a nuisance.

Wires also challenge electric utilities: These companies must take pains to boost the voltage they apply to their transmission cables to very high values to avoid dissipating most of the power along the way. And when it comes to powering public transportation, including electric trains and trams, wires need to be used in tandem with rolling or sliding contacts, which are troublesome to maintain, can spark, and in some settings will generate problematic contaminants.

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