Meet the Rolls-Royce of Giant Mining Trucks: The MTU Hybrid Haul

You know Rolls-Royce as a manufacturer of fine motor cars. You may also know Rolls-Royce as an aerospace company that is known for producing jet engines for customers such as Airbus and Boeing, a distinct business from the automobile manufacturer. And the aerospace division is part of a larger company called Rolls-Royce Holdings, which also purchased a German company that manufactures large engines for locomotives, ships, and industrial settings about a decade ago, forming Rolls-Royce Power Systems. It’s this last entity that has produced this: the MTU Hybrid Haul Truck concept from Rolls-Royce Power Systems.

Confused? It is confusing to have completely distinct companies operating under the same basic name. But what isn’t confusing is how badass this MTU truck is. For one, massive trucks never fail to amaze us, especially the monumental vehicles used in mining. But mining comes with a serious carbon footprint, and there are many mining companies looking to reduce their carbon impact (and running costs) for these massive vehicles. Caterpillar, for example, is working on zero-emissions trucks, likely battery-electric vehicles. Other companies, like startup First Mode, are working on hydrogen fuel-cell tech. And Rolls-Royce is developing a hybrid powerplant for its concept vehicle.

Rolls-Royce Power Systems estimates a 30 percent maximum reduction in emissions from its tech, which is a lot better than nothing. It aims to use existing Diesel engines with large battery packs, which use regenerative energy recuperation when, for example, descending down a ramp to the bottom of the mine. The system can be retrofitted to existing MTU-branded trucks, with CO2 emissions reductions of up to 22 percent.

Down the road, hydrogen fuel cells and low-carbon-footprint fuels are being investigated. And for remote mining areas without an existing power grid, the company will not only sell trucks but also entirely independent power stations using renewable fuel in some combination with large battery storage and diesel generators.

But this isn’t the auto industry. While the carmaker Rolls-Royce has committed to a fully electric future, the realities of the mining industry mean that Rolls-Royce Power System’s goal is a 35 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from new products from 2019 to 2030.

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