Electric vehicles are intricate machines, but eventually due to the laws of physics such as that blasted conservation of energy, the vehicles need to be recharged with juice after some amount of traveling. Emining, a Swiss technology company focusing on the mining and quarry industry, has come up with an ingenious way to have dump trucks run not diesel, nor electricity from power plants, but from electricity harnessed from gravity.
From Gravity to Energy
It does not take a physics degree to figure out that climbing up a hill is harder than traversing down it. This is because while going uphill gravity works against you, but it is your ally as you descend. Scientists call this phenomenon as potential energy: as an object ascends, its potential energy increases, and when it descends, it cashes it out in the form of additional motion. This is easily measurable with the current MPG indicator on any vehicle as it goes uphill versus downhill.
The eDumper takes this philosophy and goes one step beyond. A heavier object takes more energy to ascend and gives more as it descends. Hypothetically, using an eDumper on a mountain quarry where the peak is filled with cobalt, the dump truck climbs along with an empty cargo hold, loads up with cobalt at the top of the mountain, and then brings it down from the top.
Using regenerative braking, the dump truck can convert downward momentum into a battery charge, which gives it the energy it needs to take the next trip upward.
The system is not 100% efficient, no system is, but the moving of cobalt down the incline generates enough energy to later bring the empty dump truck up the mountain again.
The only problem is giving the eDumper enough energy to make its first ascent up the mountain. The first trip up may require it to be hauled by another vehicle that runs on diesel fuel or electricity. Once it gets going, though, it can use the potential energy of the cobalt from the top of the mountain to continue making trips.
Commercial trucking is going through an energy revolution. Some parts of the industry are looking at electricity like with the Tesla Semi. Others are looking at renewable gas like Hyliion. Out of all the solutions presented, the eDumper is the most creative yet, but it is highly unlikely that semi-trucks, traveling hundreds of miles that can be flat, will be able to utilize this energy method as dump trucks can.
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