Electric vehicles are everywhere now. It’s more than just Leafs, Teslas, and a wide variety of electric bikes. It’s also trains, busses, and in this case, gigantic dump trucks. This truck in particular is being put to work at a mine in Switzerland, and as a consequence of having an electric drivetrain is actually able to produce more power than it consumes. (Google Translate from Portugese)
This isn’t some impossible perpetual motion machine, either. The dump truck drives up a mountain with no load, and carries double the weight back down the mountain after getting loaded up with lime and marl to deliver to a cement plant. Since electric vehicles can recover energy through regenerative braking, rather than wasting that energy as heat in a traditional braking system, the extra weight on the way down actually delivers more energy to the batteries than the truck used on the way up the mountain.
The article claims that this is the largest electric vehicle in the world at 110 tons, and although we were not able to find anything larger except the occasional electric train, this is still an impressive feat of engineering that shows that electric vehicles have a lot more utility than novelties or simple passenger vehicles.
Thanks to [Frisco] for the tip!
76 thoughts on “Electric Dump Truck Produces More Energy Than It Uses”
I wonder how they’re getting rid of the surplus power. Maybe they dump it back into the grid, but I think it’s more likely that they just have a big heating coil or something like that.
Alternatively they could use the ancient way of stopping a vehicle in motion, mechanical brakes?
or their feet
or it just has traditional brakes.
“traditional brakes” do not work for these use cases. They quickly overheat and fade.
“Traditionally” they use engine brake, hydraulic/magnetic retarder and/or exhaust brake.
yes but the brakes would just be augmenting the “engine braking” provided by the electric drive-train, I do not own a dump truck, nor do I work on them regularly, but seems a plausible solution seeing as the dump truck will also have traditional brakes anyway.
if the wheels are hydraulically driven then any kind of hydraulic retarder counts as a traditional brake, in so much as they are traditionally fitted to that vehicle in that use case.
No I’d assume the operate in the same way as a deisel.eletric dump truck when rsc/dynamic braking is applied the drive motors switch from using power to drive to producing power that is feed to a grid box basically a giant toaster with massive cooling fans that are designed to use more power than the drive motors can produce the load creates drag causing braking known as rsc or dynamic braking for more in depth idea look up komatsu 830,930 ac and.dc drive systems
It would be most effective if they would feed the surplus power to the mining machinery at the top of the mountain.
Exactly what I was thinking
Then the dump truck would have to be tethered to the equipment it was powering. Now it’s not mobile and it introduces extra safety issues. The extra energy may not be that substantial to make it worth the hassle and down time.
Making it into a railway with an overhead line could make it feasible.
Unless you went wireless with some sort of really directional beam formed and tracker.
It doesn’t need to be tethered, unless you mean that in a metaphorical sense? The Dump Truck can store that power in batteries/capacitors and feed them equipment at the top of the hill going. The equipment at the top of the hill would also need to be electric to optimize efficiency.
I would imagine they have a resistive load to dump overflow energy.
I saw an earlier article that said they dumped the extra power into their own electrical needs and/or the grid.
They could use the excess power to compress air into cylinders. Those could then be run through turbines to generate more power. I think there was a car from Tata that ran off of compressed air.
Yes, this would be an excellent way to dissipate unwanted energy. Because as an energy storage compressing air is quite inefficient. (thermodynamic losses)
Compressing air is only useful if you want compressed air for any reason, but not if you need electricity at the end. For example for air tools which have, without doubt, their own merits.
Largest operational electric vehicle. Electric draglines are massive. I’ve been in Big Brutus, and I know Big Muskie was bigger.
Though the draglines are powered through cables, not by batteries, and are only notionally vehicles.
Another contender: https://www.wightlink.co.uk/information/victoria-of-wight/
(Which is actually a hybrid, I actually thought it was a BEV, charging the batteries while vehicles are loading and then electrically propleed)
Ah, here is an all-electric ferry:
With a gross tonnage of nearly 1000 tons:
Draglines are/were indeed massive, the bucket wheel excavators in Germany’s open lignite mines are even bigger and also powered from an external powerstation (Bagger 293 holds many of the records for largest land vehicle by many metrics.) They might not be BEVs, but they’re certainly electric. And this dinky little dumper truck certainly doesn’t come close in size.
But what about Bagger 288 (bagger 288 bagger bagger!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azEvfD4C6ow
I… I… But… I… mean… how…. just how….
have I never seen this GENIUS video from 2009?!
What the heck did I just watch?!?
Okay, it’s hilarious, but in all seriousness someone had too much time on their hands.
it’s the “badger badger badger mushroom mushroom” guy.
pretty sure some boats and submarines easily beat that, and lots of submarine are purely battery powered underwater…
Boats and submarines would have to be pretty big to beat https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagger_293
That is 14,000 tons whereas the electric ferry “Ellen” is only 1000 tons.
Yes, some boats and submarines beat that in terms of displacement, HOWEVER, I (and other commenters here) specifically talk about LAND vehicles. I don’t know about you but I’ve never seen a boat or submarine operational on land.
remind me to never play a game with you …
“name a vehicle bigger than this truck”
a cargo ship
“oh no no no I meant one only on land, what are you stupid cause you are right and I have a single tracked mind?”
I had a little sailboat engine once that worked like this. It was so efficient that we had to drain the fuel tank ever 10 hours.
Think this “largest electric vehicle” claim depends on how you define it. Most large modern ships are electric drive from gas generators.
Most modern Navy ships are electric drive with nuclear power.
Old Navycwubs were battery powered cwhile submurged.
Where “most” means a small percentage. Some submarines and aircraft carriers and Russian ice-breakers maybe? But yes. Very big vehicles.
Battery electric car ferry: https://youtu.be/rE_M1n-ClOA
And here’s a video of the dump truck in action: https://youtu.be/sbPH5cTTBDs
It is actually a Komatsu, and normally has an electric drive train with AC motors driven from a diesel. Kuhn Schweitz convert it to battery power. There are a lot of vehicles which use an electric drive train. Heavy earth movers, ships and submarines. A lot of them are now hybrid to some extent, in that they have batteries to even out the load on the diesels, or in the case of ships they have electric drive to the props. Nuclear powered aircraft carriers now are all electric drive! Also ice-breakers. Most ferries have electric propellers mounted on steerable pods. There is a Dutch company that convert harbor tugs from diesel-electric to battery-electric.
So close, but not quite there. :-) I too like Fully Charged YouTube videos and the electric car ferry is cool, but I also know they did a video that included this dump truck and it looks like neither of us has found it. They make so many videos and I’m not aware of an index. :-)
“is actually able to produce more power than it consumes.”
“second law of thermodinamic” anyone?
Did you even read the article?
Forget the article, the article summary here even spells it out: no perpetual motion, just carrying weights downhill
Potential energy is still energy. Your reasoning is like “this car that works with oil instead of horses does not require oat, and it even produces light and music with the oil energy surplus!”
The energy has to come from somewhere. In this case, they’re converting potential energy into electricity by carrying heavy loads down the mountain and then going back up empty. It’s a similar idea to this energy storage concept: https://qz.com/1355672/stacking-concrete-blocks-is-a-surprisingly-efficient-way-to-store-energy/
Isn’t it a bit pedantic to be contending the headline in this situation?
I’m surprised nobody chimed in that it’s “buses” not “busses”
Yes, absolutely, and it entirely misses the point. Sure, this has come cause we moved mass down a hill and converted that into energy, but we’re not going to move that mass back up the hill.
I think people just like to have the opportunity to throw out “second law of thermodynamics” to prove the value of their physics degree.
Or, rather, the converse.
ie, if you think the second law applies here, you should hand that degree back.
if it was a closed system then yea. but when you load it down with potential energy in the form of high altitude rocks then apparently you can get enough for the trip back up. in this case the extra energy comes from geologic processes. you only need to be more than 50 percent efficient to do this since you only have to bring up half the mass as what comes down.
You don’t even need to have read the article: the second paragraph of the summary here says “This isn’t some perpetual motion machine. The dump truck drives up a mountain with no load, and carries double the weight back down the mountain”
Dave ! They’re doing the over unity thing again !
There’s no such thing, Frank! You’ve just not thought about where the energy comes from!
Not so, this is an unusual example of seismic power.
It’s like a hydroelectric scheme, except the working fluid is rather more viscous.
Never considered room temperature steel to be a working fluid before.
I like that.
The steel is not the working fluid. The rock the truck is carrying is.
Not sure I can muster the patience to wait for the high level reservoir to replenish ;)
why not go the extra mile and actually link to the company website and actually provide first hand info?
it’s not that complicated a thing to do…
cheers from switzerland
So the trick to solve the energy crisis is to grow heavy vegetables on mountaintops?
No this is a very viable solution. The coal mine a mile from my house has an entire tanker full of fuel delivered at least twice a week. If they had trucks equipped with this technology that would drop to nearly nothing.
It needs to transmit the extra energy via a tesla coil or some rig to the mine. Put receptors in the road/ For that matter discharge like a bumper car — one terminal on side and one on bottom. Not hard tethered but still connected.
Just random thoughts.
I get the stored seismic energy potential. What they didn’t say is how much energy was used to mine, load and unload the dump truck in the first place… The contents of the truck don’t just hop in and hop out by themselves. The true test would be (1) for an empty truck to go up to the mining area as a and measure the battery health then. (2) load the truck (3) go down to the base where the load is removed from the truck (4) return to the mining area and compare the battery health from item “1”. Never mind that in steps “2” and “3” you are using energy to load and unload the truck presumably from “another” truck. If you want to impress me, then use the excess energy from the dump truck for mining, loading and unloading as well. Tether the excess power from the dump truck to another truck if you have to if the dump truck does not have the capability.
Eventually we’ll run out of mountains to climb after digging them all, then what? Good job using all the gravity, guys.
Let me inject you with a little common sense. In a traditional mine you would have a loader, unloader and a hauling truck all using a massive amount of diesel fuel each. In this setup we have a loader and unloader using a massive amount of fuel plus a hauler using zero fuel plus generating a little extra power. I’m no rocket surgeon, but that second scenario uses LESS fuel and that is a GOOD thing.
Hopefully this tech if feasible price wise and can allow for lower operating costs and maybe reduce concrete costs overall.
If the energy comes from the gravitational potential energy of rock, does that make it lithoelectric?
More like “geoelectric”, but that’s already taken to mean something entirely different. “Seismoelectric” is also taken, similarly. There are many types of gravity electric generators, but “gravitoelectric” is also taken to mean something else. “Kinoelectric” seems to be available, but rather vague.
I’m going to go for “Tectoelectric”.
if you ignore the energy required to get the mass it brings down then it “makes more than it uses” but that extracted material is “fuel”. and it cost energy to get that “fuel” into the truck. only this time its buried minerals not buried dinosaur or dead plants/
And it gets “refueled” every time it gets to the top of the mountain when the payload is added.
The machine at work: https://youtu.be/7ikxdFeOQZE
The Caterpillar 794F AC electric drive is twice the size of this.
At first I read this (quote: “the extra weight on the way down actually delivers more energy to the batteries than the truck used on the way up the mountain.”), and I thought, “well this truck could do this forever and never run out of energy. Sure sounds like a perpetual motion to me. Sorry, not possible.” … But, then I realized that the weight of the truck + rocks = 2X the weight of the truck going up the hill. And, yes, this would make all the difference. With regenerative braking efficiency usually around 60-70%, if the weight down is 2X the weight up, then you could, theoretically, come out net positive. The “free energy” that is being captured here is the fact that the work of putting the rocks up the mountain has already been “done”, and this process is simply taking advantage of that available potential energy. … Very ingenious! … But, also, common sense on something we should have been taking advantage of long ago whenever moving heavy loads down hill!
They used the principle in the 18th century.
That one used water as ballast to haul up. But others used the material to raise the empty cars.
No batteries, but the same idea.
Knowing that those vehicles already have a full electrical drivetriain, I was surprised it didn’t already exists.
The transformation must have been pretty simple.
It has a 720Kwh battery, and uses 20% of it to go up.
They could have gone for smaller and cheaper one, but oversized battery is good for its longevity.
I saves 50t of fuel each year.
Battery should cost around 100KE, without counting the savings and maintenance cost of the fuel engine, it paid for itself in a few years. Great idea.
Now, go and do the same with a 400t behemoth on a big mine, jackpot…
They have to recharge it every 3 days..
“In our case, sometimes the battery needs to be recharged only after three days. Recharging can take between one and eight hours depending on the capacity of the recharging station.”
One must take into account the loading of the dirt energy at the top of the hill. Also, dirt on a hill is potential energy and converting it to kinetic energy is not creating energy but transferring it. Physics 101. One can not create nor destroy energy. That is a scientific fact.
I just found a web site that claims that it saves “50,000 tons of fuel annually”. 
Which suggest either that they got bored of filling the 780 litre tank every few minutes or that the journalist who wrote the piece can’t do maths.
50,000 tons = 60,000,000 litres.
= 160,000 litres / day
= 200 tanks per day (780 litre fuel tank)
= topping the tank every 7 minutes.
I hope that they have a high-flow fuel pump!
 I won’t link to it, it’s an oath.com site.
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