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OZ Minerals, Qube, and Janus execs with electric semi. Photo courtesy of Oz Minerals.

Clean Transport

Triple Electric Road Train Trial

Janus Electric has partnered with Oz Minerals and Qube to trial a triple road train powered by a converted electric semi. For the initiated, that’s a prime mover pulling three trailers, and they will be doing this in the harshest conditions in South Australia’s outback. Oz Minerals, Janus Electric, and Qube will trial the technology over 12 months through the Vision Electric partnership based in Adelaide, South Australia. CleanTechnica announced the trial here, and despite some minor delays, the rubber is now hitting the road. The partnership is a key step by these three companies in addressing emissions reduction in the heavy transport and resources industries.

Vision Electric semi. Photo courtesy of Oz Minerals.

For those concerned, the batteries will be charged using renewable energy and swapped out for maximum efficiency. Batteries will be charged outside the truck and refreshed batteries inserted. Designed to meet the heavy hauling requirements of the mining industry, the zero-emissions technology was developed by Janus Electric to support decarbonisation. A battery recharging and replacement station has been installed at Port Augusta in South Australia. The truck will haul between Port Augusta and Carrapateena, South Australia.

The batteries can be exchanged within five minutes, and the technology can be retrofitted into any prime mover, regardless of make. The cost of converting diesel trucks to Janus Electric technology is equivalent to rebuilding a diesel engine, which needs to occur every 300,000 miles.

For the trial, Janus Electric has converted a diesel truck owned by Qube to electric. The truck will provide decarbonised on-road logistics support to OZ Minerals’ Carrapateena operations and shipping. Oz Minerals owns and operates “Carrapateena, an iron-oxide–copper–gold (IOCG) underground mine, located in the highly prospective Gawler Craton in South Australia.” Oz Minerals claims: “Our products are high purity, support a decarbonising world, have a zero-carbon footprint and are traceable from mine to end user.”

“Vision Electric is one example of how the company is reducing its emissions as part of its Decarbonisation Roadmap,” Oz Minerals CEO and MD Andrew Cole says. “We aim to reduce our emissions by 50 per cent by 2027 and achieve net zero Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 2030. This trial is part of our investment to find pathways to these reductions.” They are guided by their purpose: “Going beyond what’s possible to make lives better.”

The truck features an electric drivetrain that provides high torque and power, making it capable of hauling up to 165 tonnes (a triple road train). Its range is between 200–400 km (125–250 miles) on a single charge. Although these three companies are committed to reducing their carbon footprint, Lex Forsyth has previously made the point that transport operators can also make sound financial decisions via conversion to battery electric powertrains for their trucks. For example: on the Brisbane-to-Sydney run of about 1000 km (621), a converted semi will use about $300 dollars worth of electricity compared to $750 worth of diesel and $50 worth of Adblu. “Plus, maintenance on a diesel motor is significantly higher,” Forsyth adds.

This trial is expected to validate those cost savings and demonstrate that electric semis “can handle the load and the road” in the harsh conditions in which Australian mining takes place. Janus Electric CEO Lex Forsyth said, “This is a significant milestone for the transport industry. The Janus Electric team has developed a vehicle that both performs exceptionally and reduces carbon emissions.” Janus Electric is a non-listed public company utilising Australian engineering ingenuity to electrify prime movers across Australia for a zero emissions future.

Vision Electric semi truck. Photo courtesy of Oz Minerals.

Lex points out that since the truck had already accrued a carbon debt, it was more efficient to convert existing trucks than build a battery electric prime mover from the ground up. “Charging such large batteries is a challenge.” That is why Janus came up with the idea of a battery exchange — easier on the existing grid, less downtime for the truckies. With software managing the charging process, batteries can be charged when renewables are producing the most power.

In Australia, 80% of trucks run within 400 km of a capital city. The plan is to electrify from Cairns to Adelaide with battery swap stations. Australia uses 32 billion litres of diesel per year. One quarter of that goes into trucking. 100% is imported. Electrifying trucks will aid energy security. Not only that, but large battery swap stations can fill during the middle of the day and then use any excess energy to help stabilize the grid.

“Stopping for hours to recharge batteries is not a feasible solution for fleet owners. The Janus solution is to charge and change when and where it makes sense,” Lex Forsyth says.

Janus’ order book keeps growing. It is full with Macks, Volvos, Kenworths, and Freightliners queuing up for conversion from diesel to battery electric. These trucks have similar chassis width, so Janus can use the same batteries and drivetrain on each truck.

Qube Bulk’s Director, Todd Emmert, said, “Qube is proud to be working with Janus Electric and OZ Minerals in this important trial. Vision Electric is providing a clean and alternate energy solution for the remote export supply chain and is consistent with Qube’s ambition to be a supply chain leader in the transition to a lower carbon future.”

Qube Bulk is an operating division of Qube Holdings (ASX: QUB), with the unit focused on the resources sector. “Qube is Australia’s largest integrated provider of import and export logistics services with national operations that provide a broad range of services.”

Oz Minerals is also planning to power its AU$1 billion nickel mine in Western Australia with 80% renewables. Electrified transport will also be used to reduce its carbon footprint. It is expected that BHP will be taking over Oz Minerals.

As more and logistics companies seek electric transport options, from last-mile delivery up to triple-dog road trains, the expectation is that oil demand will reduce and cleaner skies will be their reward. Well done, Janus, Oz Minerals (BHP), and Qube. Stay tuned, the news just gets better.

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David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].


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