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Environmental Assessment of Replacing Fossil Fuels with Hydrogen for Motorised Equipment in the Mining Sector


To achieve the European milestone of climate neutrality by 2050, the decarbonisation of energy-intensive industries is essential. In 2022, global energy-related CO2 emissions increased by 0.9% or 321 Mt, reaching a peak of over 36.8 Gt. A large amount of these emissions is the result of fossil fuel usage in the motorised equipment used in mining. Heavy diesel vehicles, like excavators, wheel loaders, and dozers, are responsible for an estimated annual CO2 emissions of 400 Mt of CO2 , accounting for approximately 1.1% of global CO2 emissions. In addition, exhaust gases of CO2 and NOx endanger the personnel’s health in all mining operations, especially in underground environments. To tackle these environmental concerns and enhance environmental health, extractive industries are focusing on replacing fossil fuels with alternative fuels of low or zero CO2 emissions. In mining, the International Council on Mining and Metals has committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier. Of the various alternative fuels, hydrogen (H2 ) has seen a considerable rise in popularity in recent years, as H2 combustion accounts for zero CO2 emissions due to the lack of carbon in the burning process. When combusted with pure oxygen, it also accounts for zero NOx formation and near-zero emissions overall. To this end, this study aims to examine the overall environmental performance of H2 -powered motorised equipment compared to conventional fossil fuel-powered equipment through Life Cycle Assessment. The assessment was conducted using the commercial software Sphera LCA for Experts, following the conventionally used framework established by ISO 14040:2006 and 14044:2006/A1:2018 and the International Life Cycle Data Handbook, consisting of (1) the goal and scope definition, (2) the Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) preparation, (3) the Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) and (4) the interpretation of the results. The results will offer an overview to support decision-makers in the sector.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Greece

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