Making Resource Extraction Carbon Neutral
A secure supply of mineral raw materials is essential for the competitiveness and prosperity of Germany and Europe. At the same time, raw material extraction results in substantial carbon dioxide emissions and therefore needs to become more sustainable in order to help achieve climate targets and to remain competitive. This includes, in particular, the decarbonization of operations that extract raw material. In Germany, this affects around 1,600 companies with around 2,700 plants and 23,500 employees in gravel, sand, and natural stone production alone.
Up to now, a significant proportion of the energy used in the extraction of raw materials at these plants has been used for internal transport. And most of this energy is being consumed by mobile diesel-powered (heavy-duty) vehicles. Conversion to (battery) electric operation is therefore a key lever for reducing emissions in this sector. This applies to the retrofitting of existing companies as well as to future projects.
Decarbonization of Domestic Raw Material Extraction - A Holistic Approach
In the newly launched ELMAR project, a consortium of research and industry partners is investigating how the decarbonization of the raw materials sector can be achieved and implemented in a holistic approach. The project involves the deployment of autonomous electric heavy-duty electric mine transport systems, the adaptation of the infrastructure this requires, and the redesign of operational processes. In addition, the project seeks to optimize the matching of energy demand and energy supply with the help of a connected, model-based and intelligent operational management.
ELMAR lays an important foundation for the integration of electric automated mobile heavy-duty transport machines in raw material extraction," says Dr. Tobias Hartmann of the Institute for Advanced Mining Technologies at RWTH Aachen University. "Maintaining process reliability in extraction while ensuring security of electrical supply, as well as coupling it to renewable energy sources, we want to demonstrate in representative application scenarios that electrical transport is possible in domestic resource extraction. The holistic approach taking production, energy demand and energy supply aspects int account makes it possible to optimize existing and upcoming operating concepts."
The consortium consists of two RWTH institutes, the Institute for Advanced Mining Technologies (AMT) and the Institute for Power Electronics and Electrical Drives (ISEA), and industry partners. Volvo Group Trucks Central Europe GmbH, Volvo Construction Equipment Germany GmbH, and Volvo Autonomous Solutions AB (commissioned by VCE Germany GmbH), are participating as construction equipment and transport vehicle manufacturers and automation providers. Other partners include mine operators Mineral Baustoffe GmbH (part of the STRABAG Group), Knauf Gips KG, and Nivelsteiner Sandwerke & Sandsteinbrüche GmbH; AI and cloud-based software providers PSI Fuzzy Logik & Neuro Systeme GmbH and PSI Software AG; and TITUS Research GmbH as a developer of autonomous monitoring systems.
The ELMAR project is scheduled to run until the end of July 2025 and receives around 6 million euros from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMKW) as part of the "Research and Development in the Field of Electromobility" funding initiative.The total project volume is around 11 million euros.