This massive 121-ton electric dump truck never uses more energy than it generates on its own - here's how that works

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  • Researchers in Switzerland and a construction supply company have developed an electric dump truck that can consume less energy than it produces in certain situations.
  • The 121-ton "eDumper" was unveiled in April and produces its own energy through regenerative braking on downhill runs.
  • The massive machine then uses that energy to go back up the hill, but since it weighs less with no cargo, it ends up with extra energy.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Mining is intense work.

For years, companies have relied on heavy machinery - almost all of which burns gas and diesel - to expose ore, minerals, and other materials from beneath the earth's surface and turn it into usable components.

One company, Kuhn Schweiz AG, has found a way to do at least part of that work completely emissions-free, together with researchers from the Bern University of Applied Sciences in Bern, Switzerland and the NTB Interstate University of Technology in Buchs, Switzerland.

Enter, the "eDumper" a 121-ton electric dump truck that can consume less energy than it produces in certain situations.

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The green machine, in both eco-friendliness and paint scheme, entered service in April in Péry, Switzerland.

The green machine, in both eco-friendliness and paint scheme, entered service in April in Péry, Switzerland.

The eDumper began life as a traditional, gas-guzzling dump truck, and the transformation was no small feat. Here's a human for size comparison.

The eDumper began life as a traditional, gas-guzzling dump truck, and the transformation was no small feat. Here's a human for size comparison.

Fully loaded, it can transport 65 tons of mined rock downhill from the mountain. As it descends, its regenerative braking generates electricity.

Fully loaded, it can transport 65 tons of mined rock downhill from the mountain. As it descends, its regenerative braking generates electricity.

Because it's unloaded at the bottom, and then drives back up the hill weighing less than the downhill run, the eDumper uses less electricity than it produces, according to the researchers behind the project.

Because it's unloaded at the bottom, and then drives back up the hill weighing less than the downhill run, the eDumper uses less electricity than it produces, according to the researchers behind the project.

In addition to being the world's largest electric vehicle, researchers also broke the record for the world's largest battery, which weighs 4.5 tons

In addition to being the world's largest electric vehicle, researchers also broke the record for the world's largest battery, which weighs 4.5 tons

"To ensure the fire safety of such a large battery cell, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology Empa examined the behavior of the Li-Ion cells used in the event of a short circuit or mechanical damage," a press release says.

"Never before has a land vehicle been equipped with such a huge battery pack. The eDumper is now designed in such a way that a failing cell cannot affect neighbouring cells."

Those massive batteries power a new motor, which replaced the dump truck's original diesel engine.

Those massive batteries power a new motor, which replaced the dump truck's original diesel engine.

Eventually, all the component parts were assembled into the truck

Eventually, all the component parts were assembled into the truck

And in April, the eDumper was revealed to the world

And in April, the eDumper was revealed to the world

The eDumper is expected to move some 300,000 tons of rock every year for the next decade. The researchers estimate that will save "up to 1,300 tons of CO2 and 500,000 liters of diesel " over 10 years.

The eDumper is expected to move some 300,000 tons of rock every year for the next decade. The researchers estimate that will save "up to 1,300 tons of CO2 and 500,000 liters of diesel " over 10 years.
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