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Ready-to-ship canisters filled with enriched uranium at the Urenco USA uranium enrichment facility near Eunice, New Mexico, US, on Tuesday, July 11, 2023. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is forcing the US and Europe to search for alternative sources of enriched uranium to power their reactors. 

Mark Felix | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The United States will ban imported Russian uranium starting on Aug. 11, the Department of Energy announced Tuesday.

Russia controls nearly half of the world’s supply of enriched uranium, according to the Department of Energy, and provides about one quarter of the U.S.’s enriched uranium, which is used to power the country’s 94 nuclear reactors.

The ban, which President Joe Biden signed into law on Monday, also unlocks $2.72 billion in federal funding to expand the country’s uranium industry.

Exchange-traded funds that track uranium prices rose slightly following the announcement, with the Global X Uranium ETF and the Sprott Uranium Miners ETF trading around 1% higher Tuesday.

Because the ban’s implementation could hurt supplies for reactors in the U.S., the law allows some waivers for utilities that otherwise would be forced to shut down reactors without them. All waivers, however, will end on or before Jan. 1, 2028.

“Our nation’s clean energy future will not rely on Russian imports,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. “We are making investments to build out a secure nuclear fuel supply chain here in the United States.”

While the U.S. continues to import more than 20% of its enriched uranium from Russia’s state-owned nuclear power company Rosatom, it has sanctioned more than 35 of the company’s subsidiaries since February 2022, when the Kremlin invaded Ukraine.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said this latest move marks an end to U.S. dependence on Russia for the commodity.

“Banning imports of Russian uranium will jumpstart America’s nuclear fuel industry, further defund Russia’s war machine, and help revive American uranium production for decades to come,” Barrasso said in a statement on Monday after the bill’s enactment.

In response to Biden’s signing of the ban, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, said in a post on Telegram that it was another “failed” attempt by the Biden administration in “inflicting strategic economic defeat on us.”

“The current attack — not only on Russia but also on the world market for uranium fuel for nuclear power plants — is leading to new shocks in international economic relations,” he said. “The delicate balance between exporters and importers of uranium products is being disrupted.”

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Caterpillar is putting MASSIVE 240-ton electric haul truck to work in Vale mine

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Caterpillar is putting MASSIVE 240-ton electric haul truck to work in Vale mine

Mining company Vale is turning to Caterpillar to provide this massive, 240-ton battery-electric haul truck in a bid to slash carbon emissions at its mines by 2030.

Caterpillar and Vale have signed an agreement that will see the Brazilian mining company test severe-duty battery electric mining trucks like the 793 BEV (above), as well as V2G/V2x energy transfer systems and alcohol-powered trucks. The test will help Vale make better equipment choices as it works to achieve its goals of reducing direct and indirect carbon emissions 33% by 2030 and eliminating 100% of its net emissions by 2050.

If that sounds weird, consider that most cars and trucks in Brazil run on either pure ethyl alcohol/ethanol (E100) or “gasohol” (E25).

“We are developing a portfolio of options to decarbonize Vale’s operations, including electrification and the use of alternative fuels in the mines. The most viable solutions will be adopted,” explains Ludmila Nascimento, energy and decarbonization director Vale. “We believe that ethanol has great potential to contribute to the 2030 target because it is a fuel that has already been adopted on a large scale in Brazil, with an established supply network, and which requires an active partnership with manufacturers. We stand together to support them in this goal.”

Vale will test a 240-ton Cat 793 battery-electric haul truck at its operations in Minas Gerais, and put energy transfer solutions to a similar tests at Vale’s operations in Pará over the next two-three years. Caterpillar and Vale have also agreed to a joint study on the viability of a dual-fuel (ethanol/diesel) solution for existing ICE-powered assets.

Vale claims to be the world’s largest producer of iron ore and nickel, and says it’s committed to an investment of between $4 billion to $6 billion to meet its 2030 goal.

Cat 793 electric haul truck

During its debut in 2022, the Cat 793 haul truck was shown on a 4.3-mile test course at the company’s Tucson proving grounds. There, the 240-ton truck was able to achieve a top speed of over 37 mph (60 km/h) fully loaded. Further tests involved the loaded truck climbing a 10% grade for a full kilometer miles at 7.5 mph before unloading and turning around for the descent, using regenerative braking to put energy back into the battery on the way down.

Despite not giving out detailed specs, Caterpillar reps reported that the 793 still had enough charge in its batteries for to complete more testing cycles.

Electrek’s Take

Caterpillar-electric-mining-truck
Cat 793 EV at 2022 launch; via Caterpillar.

Electric equipment and mining to together like peanut butter and jelly. In confined spaces, the carbon emissions and ear-splitting noise of conventional mining equipment can create dangerous circumstances for miners and operators, and that can lead to injury or long-term disability that’s just going to exacerbate a mining operation’s ability to keep people working and minerals coming out of the ground.

By working with companies like Vale to prove that forward-looking electric equipment can do the job as well as well as (if not better than) their internal combustion counterparts, Caterpillar will go a long way towards converting the ICE faithful.

SOURCES | IMAGES: Caterpillar, Construction Equipment, and E&MJ.

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Argonne Nat’l Lab is spending big bucks to study BIG hydrogen vehicles

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Argonne Nat'l Lab is spending big bucks to study BIG hydrogen vehicles

Argonne National Laboratory is building a new research and development facility to independently test large-scale hydrogen fuel cell systems for heavy-duty and off-road applications with funding from the US Department of Energy.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is hoping Argonne Nat’l Lab’s extensive fuel cell research experience, which dates back to 1996, will give it unique insights as it evaluates new polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell systems ranging from 150 to 600 kilowatts for use in industrial vehicle and stationary power generation applications.

The new Argonne test facility will help prove (or, it should be said, disprove) the validity of hydrogen as a viable fuel for transportation applications including heavy trucks, railroad locomotives, marine vessels, and heavy machines used in the agriculture, construction, and mining industries.

“The facility will serve as a national resource for analysis and testing of heavy-duty fuel cell systems for developers, technology integrators and end-users in heavy-duty transportation applications including [OTR] trucks, railroad locomotives, marine vessels, aircraft and vehicles used in the agriculture, construction and mining industries,” explains Ted Krause, laboratory relationship manager for Argonne’s hydrogen and fuel cell programs. “The testing infrastructure will help advance fuel cell performance and pave the way toward integrating the technology into all of these transportation applications.”

The Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) of DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is dedicating about $4 million to help build the new Argonne facility, which is set to come online next fall.

Electrek’s Take

Medium-sized Hydrogen FC excavator concept; via Komatsu.

It’s going to be hard to convince me that the concentrated push for a technology as inefficient as hydrogen fuel cells has more to do with any real consumer or climate benefit than it does keeping the throngs of people it will take to manufacture, capture, transport, store, house, and effectively dispense hydrogen gainfully employed through the next election cycle.

As such, while case studies like the hydrogen combustion-powered heavy trucks that have been trialed at Anglo American’s Mogalakwena mine since 2021 (at top) and fuel cell-powered concepts like Komatsu’s medium-sized excavator (above) have proven that hydrogen as a fuel can definitely work on a job site level while producing far fewer harmful emissions than diesel, I think swappable batteries like the ones being shown off by Moog Construction and Firstgreen have a far brighter future.

Speaking of Moog, we talked to some of the engineers being their ZQuip modular battery systems on a HEP-isode of The Heavy Equipment Podcast a few months back. I’ve included it, below, in case that’s something you’d like to check out.

SOURCES | IMAGES: ANL, Komatsu, and NPROXX.

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Velocity truck rental adds 47 high-speed truck chargers to California dealer network

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Velocity truck rental adds 47 high-speed truck chargers to California dealer network

Velocity truck rental is doing its part to help commercial fleets electrify by energizing 47 high-powered charging stations at four strategic dealer locations across Southern California. And they’re doing it now.

The new Velocity Truck Rental & Leasing (VTRL) charging network isn’t some far-off goal being announced for PR purposes. The company says its new chargers are already in the ground, and set to be fully online and energized by the end of this month at at VTRL facilities in Rancho Dominguez (17), Fontana (14), the City of Industry (14), and San Diego (2).

45 120 kW Detroit e-Fill chargers make up the bulk of VTRL’s infrastructure project, while two DCFC stations from ChargePoint get them to 47. All of the chargers, however, where chosen specifically to cater to the needs of medium and heavy-duty battery electric work trucks.

The company says it chose the Detroit e-Fill commercial-grade chargers because they’ve already proven themselves in Daimler-heavy fleets with their ability to bring Class 8 Freightliner eCascadias, Class 6 and 7 Freightliner eM2 box trucks, and RIZON Class 4 and 5 cabover trucks, “to 80% state of charge in just 90 minutes or less.”

At Velocity, we are not just reacting to the shift towards electric mobility; we are at the forefront with our customers and actively shaping it. By integrating high-powered, commercial-grade charging solutions along key transit corridors, we are ensuring that our customers have the support they need today. This charging infrastructure investment is a testament to our commitment to helping our customers transition smoothly to electromobility solutions and to prepare for compliance with the Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) regulations.

David Deon, velocity president

Velocity plans to offer flexible charging options to accommodate the needs of different fleets, including both managed, “charging as a service” subscription plans and self-managed/opportunity charging during daily routes. While trucks are charging, drivers and operators will be able to relax in comfortable break rooms equipped with WIFI, television, snacks, water, and restrooms.

Electrek’s Take

Image via DTNA.

While it feels a bit underwhelming to write about trucking companies simply following the letter of the law in California, the rollout of an all-electric, zero-emission commercial trucking fleet remains something that, I think, should be celebrated.

As such, I’m celebrating it. I hope you are, too.

SOURCE | IMAGES: Global Newswire; Daimler Trucks.

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