Meet Africa’s First And Only Hydrogen Truck Operator Whose Truck Is The World’s Largest

by Duke Magazine

World’s largest hydrogen-powered truck was unveiled at a platinum mine in South Africa. The mining giant Anglo American unveiled the 220-tonne truck and said it is the first of a fleet that will replace the company’s diesel-powered trucks.

The truck utilizes two-megawatt hydrogen fuel cells to transport up to 290 tonnes of ore, according to the news source. It was exhibited at the Mogalakwena mine, located approximately 250 kilometers from Johannesburg. President Cyril Ramaphosa stated, “What we are launching is not just an impressive piece of machinery; it is the beginning of an entire hydrogen-powered ecosystem.”

Alex Tumisang Lekgau, age 29, is extremely familiar with this fact. He spent eight months learning how to operate the truck, which is comparable in size to a small house. The young South African is now the first licensed operator of a hydrogen truck in Africa and the operator of the largest hydrogen truck in the world. In 2021, when Lekgau learned about the project, he was employed as a diesel-mechanical assistant at Mogalakwena, he told SowetanLive.

He then volunteered to operate it for the first time. Lekgau was tested in August 2021 and passed the global test in order to become the sole operator of the truck he helped construct. According to SowetanLive, his tests included module and simulation components.

“Being the first person in Africa to operate and work on this equipment is a fantastic opportunity to advance my career in the field of hydrogen operations. It will be the most challenging exposure and experience for me because I will have to make numerous adjustments, such as familiarizing myself with the truck, acquiring new driving skills, and adapting to a new way of life.

Lekgau studied engineering at the Capricorn TVET College before beginning work at Anglo American in 2018. “Before receiving my license, I performed major repairs, cable routing, and component installation. I also promoted safe work procedures by issuing the proper protective equipment to my coworkers, and I managed the storeroom and maintained the cleanliness of the facility,” said Lekgau.

In the future, he hopes to be a hydrogen truck safety facilitator who teaches others how to operate the equipment. He is currently thrilled to be a part of new technology.

“Working for engineering control techniques gives me a great feeling because I am surrounded by goal-oriented, hardworking, helpful, and kind individuals…

Therefore, I am flexible with my working hours and look forward to spending time with people I enjoy.

Anglo Americans has stated that it hopes to be carbon neutral by 2040. According to AFP, “solar energy will be used to split water into its component hydrogen and oxygen atoms”

“Over the next several years, we plan to convert or replace our current fleet of diesel-powered trucks with this zero-emission haulage system powered by green hydrogen,” said Duncan Wanblad, chief executive officer of Anglo American. If this pilot project proves successful, we could eliminate up to 80 percent of diesel emissions from our open-pit mines by implementing this technology across our entire global fleet.

South Africa has recently received assistance from the United States, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom in its transition to a low-carbon economy. In this regard, the four wealthy nations pledged approximately $8.5 billion and technical assistance. According to reports at the time, the primary objective of the agreement signed in Glasgow during COP26 last November was to transform the country’s electricity generation system.

Ramaphosa described the introduction of the latest hydrogen-powered truck as “a giant leap for South Africa’s hydrogen future economy.”

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