Chile funds green hydrogen project to decarbonize mining vehicles


With the goal of achieving carbon neutrality in Chile by 2050, the Production Development Corporation (CORFO) will finance the “Hydra” project, led by the Australian applied research center CSIRO Chile, ENGIE and the research center mining Mining3. It will develop hybrid powertrain modules for Chilean mining, replacing conventional diesel ones with units made up of state-of-the-art batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.

With this initiative, in the future it will be possible to reduce 100% of greenhouse gas emissions from mining vehicles, extending to the entire mobility sector (pickup trucks to CAEX mining trucks) and enabling the development of a new economic pole based on green hydrogen. The project, one of the winners of the 2020 version of CORFO’s Innova Alta Tecnología Program, will seek to generate a versatile prototype, with multiple uses in mining and the ability to enable and generate new uses of this clean fuel in the country.

“We are convinced that sustainable reactivation is essential to create a more resilient and robust economy for the future. In this sense, promoting the development of a new industry such as green hydrogen, respectful of the environment and which will also inject more competition and generate thousands of jobs in our country, is key. We hope that the project led by CSIRO Chile, which joins two other projects supported by Corfo and that promote the use of green hydrogen in mining, will be a great contribution in this regard,” stated Pablo Terrazas, Executive Vice-President of CORFO.

The objectives of the project include the design and manufacture of a prototype of this hybrid powertrain that will be trialed on a test bench where the mining conditions will be replicated, including its operational use profile, under different loads, routes and altitude conditions. In turn, the optimal combination of cells/batteries will be obtained, it will solve the connection problems between these sources, it will study different hydrogen refueling strategies, in addition to collaborating in the adaptation and creation of protocols/regulations that guarantee safety in large scale operations.

“Thanks to the support of CORFO and our alliance with ENGIE and Mining3, we are taking concrete steps to transform Chile into a producer and exporter of green hydrogen. With almost 10 years in Chile and more than 100 in Australia, the CSIRO model based on collaboration, puts the Hydra project as a concrete example in this sense,” said Dr. Orlando Jiménez, Executive Director of CSIRO Chile.

“We are happy to have CORFO’s support for the Hydra project. We believe that renewable hydrogen is key to decarbonizing the mining industry. We look forward to joining forces with CSIRO Chile and Mining3 to contribute to Chile’s energy transition and help boost the country’s hydrogen economy,” added Michèle Azalbert, CEO of ENGIE’s Hydrogen Business Unit.

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