First Mode picks ABB battery systems for mine haul trucks
By Chad Elmore11 May 2023
Batteries to be part of hybrid hydrogen powerplant
First Mode and ABB have announced a purchase order for ABB to supply First Mode with 80 Bordline ESS lithium-ion battery systems. The batteries, which total 2.6 megawatt-hours, are expected to help power the next several zero-emission mining haul trucks being developed by First Mode.
“The successful testing and operation of First Mode’s proof-of-concept truck proved that a combination of batteries and fuel cells to power heavy-duty vehicles is a viable alternative to diesel,” said Julian Soles, CEO of First Mode. “We are thrilled to continue our partnership with ABB, which played an instrumental role in the proof-of-concept commissioning, as we scale production of our proprietary nuGen Haulage Solution and bring additional cost savings to our customers, all while maintaining an industry-leading safety program.”
The Bordline ESS batteries will be assembled into larger battery packs and used in the construction of hybrid hydrogen and battery powerplants to power ultra-class haul trucks. The batteries will be used both to increase the peak power output available to the truck when ascending a grade, and to recover energy through regenerative braking when descending.
“The mining environment presents a unique combination of high-power charge and discharge, continuous operation, and significant thermal management challenges that are not found in many other applications,” said Krunal Desai, First Mode’s Director of Electrical Engineering. “Lithium titanate oxide based cells are an ideal fit for this application, with excellent power performance and inherent safety that meets our operational needs.”
The next-generation powerplants, refueling systems, and other infrastructure are being built and tested at First Mode’s engineering and development facilities in Seattle, Wash., which include a 45,000-sq.-ft manufacturing facility slated to come online later this year. The systems are expected to be demonstrated at First Mode’s proving grounds starting in early 2024.
“We are grateful for the continued partnership with First Mode in advancing clean energy solutions for the mining industry. ABB’s Bordline energy storage systems play a crucial role in enabling sustainable, diesel-free operations in many transport industries,” said Edgar Keller, president of ABB’s Traction Division. “We are proud to work with First Mode in achieving their mission to eliminate diesel and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future.
ABB first partnered with First Mode in 2019 to supply battery chargers, motors and drives for the world’s first two-megawatt hybrid hydrogen fuel cell and battery powerplant, designed and built by First Mode in Seattle, in partnership with Anglo American.
ABB supplied a megawatt-scale DC-to-DC converter based on its Bordline-series railway converters, as well as on-site engineering support for the proof-of-concept ultra-class haul truck that debuted May 6, 2022 at Anglo American’s platinum mine at Mogalakwena, South Africa.
“Our solutions – which include not just batteries, but also drives and motors for heavy industry mobility – bring a major advantage in that they’re highly customizable and easy to integrate,” said Keller.