EVs underground: K+S tests electric mobility in its mines

Fertilizer and salt producer K+S is testing whether electric vehicles are cut out for work in mines. Conditions there, such as uneven roads, large inclines and temperatures of up to 50°C, could be possible hurdles for technology. A current project at the Hattorf-Wintershall mine now combines isolated tests of EVs.

As more and more manufacturers have announced that they will not continue to produce diesel-fueled off-road vehicles in the near future, K+S is looking at how to make the switch to EVs as well. Currently, the small electric fleet is comprised of six pick-ups with off-road ability and an electric passenger van with room for eight. The former is said to have a range of about 110 kilometres. Just for K+S, the car manufacturer swapped the diesel engine for an electric one with about 90 kW.

EVs in the mines have to cover up to 100 kilometres per shift and are used in multiple shifts per day. Charging periods are generally very short and can only take place during shift changes. Moreover, charging cannot be made available everywhere in the mines, says Lars Rickfelder, Head of Underground Technology at K+S. The company has set up a separate 400-volt charging network with 12 AC chargers for the trial. Longterm, there could be more than 300 EVs in the mine.



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