Across the board, as we transition into a more eco-friendly world, we're attempting to go electric. While electric certainly isn't the only viable option for living greener, when it comes to technology, it's definitely an option worth exploring. When we consider travel, like cars, trucks, or trains, electric seems like an obvious choice, especially when it comes to mass production. Now, even construction workers are getting in on the eco-action, as the world's biggest fully electric dump truck, known as the E-Dumper, hits the market.
Ciments Vigier, based in Switzerland, have been able to repurpose an old dumper truck into an environmentally friendly machine. Taking the base of an old Komatsu HD 605-7, they’ve been able to create the E-Dumper. Its biggest difference is taking out the old diesel engine and replacing it with a capacity of 700 kilowatt-hours. To put it in perspective, that’s eight batteries from the Tesla Model S combined.
Why does a dump truck need so much battery power? Mostly, it's because of its sheer size. The E-Dumper is the biggest electric vehicle constructed, as of now. The wheels are 6.5 feet in diameter and there’s a stairway to get from the ground to the cabin of the vehicle. It also checks in at 45 tons of weight, and that’s before putting in a capacity of 65 tons worth of rubble.
Like other standard EVs on the market, the E-Dumper will use regenerative braking to offset some power usage. Since this particular unit will be going up and down hills, the electric engine will be able to charge the vehicle as it descends, clocking in at roughly 40 kilowatt-hours per trip.
How does this work? Essentially, energy harvested from the truck's transition down the hill is used when it moves back up. When conditions are optimal, the truck could generate more electricity than it needs to make its ascension. If that’s the case, each truck could become a valuable source of renewable energy. As for how much incline the truck can take itself, it can be a slope of up to 13 percent.
There hasn’t been a battery quite like this used in an electric truck. The unit alone will weight 4.5 tons, or 9,000 pounds, and it features 1,440 nickel manganese cobalt cells. Marcel Held, who works with the Swiss Federal Office of Energy and is a battery expert, tells Phys.org that this particular material is being used in German automobiles going forward.
Once concern in using this much battery power is the potential for hazardous malfunctions. Held is currently studying what happens when cobalt cells are involved in accidents or are overcharged when electricity is generated. "Some batteries start smoking, others burst into flames," Held said. "The crucial thing in this instance is to make sure the neighboring cells are not damaged by the fire and heat, otherwise there is the risk of a chain reaction."
As expected, the cost of creating the E-Dumper are certainly not cheap, though the final number has yet to be released. According to Inhabitat, should the battery be able to withstand the heat and the vehicle becomes a success, Ciments Vigier would like to build eight more E-Dumper units.