Sweden irons out carbon emission future
Kaunis Iron begins electric haul truck pilot at Arctic mine Metal Tech News – February 3, 2021
Last updated 2/2/2021 at 5:03pm
Sweden-based Kaunis Iron, in collaboration with Vattenfall, Volvo Trucks, ABB and Wist Last & Buss have come together for a unique pilot project to develop a sustainable logistics system, free from fossil fuels.
Managing one of the largest iron mines in Sweden, Kaunis Iron has a vision of being the world's most sustainable supplier of iron ore. One of the highest hurdles to achieving this objective is reducing the carbon dioxide emissions from the heavy equipment transporting iron ore at the arctic mine.
"This type of challenge cannot be solved by any single stakeholder. Industrial innovation calls for collaboration between experts," said logistics manager for Kaunis Iron, Lars Wallgren. "It is pleasing that we have managed to assemble such a strong team to challenge the arctic climate with electrically powered heavy vehicles."
That is the goal, to test the limits of electrically powered heavy trucks at a northern Sweden iron mine where temperatures dip to 44 degrees below zero Celsius (minus 47 degrees Fahrenheit).
"We periodically drive our heavy vehicles in extreme winter cold," said Wallgren. "If the technology works here, it will probably work everywhere."
Volvo Trucks is contributing to this pilot project by putting forward its own all-electric Volvo FMX prototype heavy truck to evaluate how battery-electric trucks – including charging systems – function in arctic conditions.
The truck will weigh 32 metric tons with a pay load up to 15 metric tons and will run on a lithium-ion battery with a nominal capacity of 264 kilowatt-hours running an all-electric driveline with a two-speed gearbox at 400 kW, which can be converted roughly to nearly 540 horsepower.
"It is very valuable to us to be able to develop our products in collaboration with our customers," said Ebba Bergbom Wallin, commercial electromobility manager at Volvo Trucks Sweden. "So, it will be exciting to monitor and evaluate Kaunis Iron's testing of our all-electric Volvo FMX in an arctic environment. It will help us assess how battery-electric trucks can be used to increase efficiency and reduce climate impact in extremely cold conditions."
Vattenfall is a government owned utility company in Sweden that provides power in Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. With their support, Volvo's electric trucks should find a smooth transition from fossil fuels.
"Our fossil-free electricity and services for charging infrastructure, where we install, operate and maintain charging functions, play a self-evident role in the development of electrified transport, and we are very pleased with this cooperation," said Maria Lindberg, manager for heavy electrified transport at Vattenfall. "Here, we have the opportunity to develop an aspect of fossil-free mining operations, a step towards achieving a fossil-free society and basic industry."
Part of the testing includes the charging infrastructure, which must efficiently manage charging the truck in the operational cycle. With utility to the stations being developed by Vattenfall, the actual EV charging devices will be the responsibility of ABB, the long-time global powerhouse that specializes in robotics, power, heavy electrical equipment and automation technology areas.
"We are pleased to be part of this project to test whether it is feasible to operate heavy vehicles in extreme environments with electricity as the sole power source," said the head of EV charging infrastructure at ABB Eva Kvist Östgren. "ABB's three high-power chargers use well proven technology, they provide fast charging and can be used for both heavy vehicles and cars. Together with the project partners we provide important input to minimize the use of fossil fuels and to enable a community with low-carbon dioxide emissions."
Each of the three high-powered chargers provided by ABB have 175 kW output that can be upgraded to 350 kW and have combined charging system outlets for fast charging.
Finally, Wist Last & Buss will bring its highly skilled technicians to ensure the best possible uptime for the vehicles and monitor the condition as it operates during the winter weather.
"Experience from this unique project to approach carbon dioxide neutrality through the electrification of trucks in the most trying of environments will bring new knowledge to benefit of the entire automotive industry," said Kajsa Friberg, northern region sales manager for Wist Last & Buss. "Our strength as an established Volvo dealer responsible for all of Northern Sweden is our capacity to adjust service solutions to the conditions. We carry out all regular maintenance and repairs of the ore trucks locally in Pajala and Junosuando, in close cooperation with Kaunis Iron's traffic control division."
With the operation undergoing in Norrbotten County in northern Sweden, the Kaunisvaara iron mine is one of the largest iron mines in Sweden as well as the world having an estimated 872 million metric tons of ore grading 32.7% iron. With an operation that large, it needs to run year-round.
With the support of several experts contributing to this pilot project – slated to get underway this month – the dream of a zero-emission iron mine in Sweden is well on its way for Kaunis Iron and collaboration.