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Meet Alex Tumisang, World’s Largest Hydrogen Truck Operator

The world’s largest hydrogen truck was launched at a platinum mine in South Africa. The Mining giant Anglo American unveiled the 220-tonne truck, said it is the first fleet that will replace the firm’s diesel-powered trucks.

The truck uses two-megawatt hydrogen fuel cells to haul up to 290 tonnes of ore. It was displayed at Mogalakwena mine, around 250 kilometers from Johannesburg.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said, “What we are launching is not merely an impressive piece of machinery, it is the genesis of an entire ecosystem powered by hydrogen”

Alex Tumis­ang Lekgau, the first licensed hydrogen truck operator and operator of the largest one in the world used eight months to train to use the truck, a vehicle that can be compared in size to a small house.

He volun­teered to be the first to operate it. He was tested in August 2021 and also passed the global test to become the sole oper­ator of the truck, which he also helped build. His tests included mod­ules and sim­u­la­tion.

“Being the first in Africa to oper­ate and work on this machinery is a great oppor­tun­ity to grow my career in the world of hydro­gen oper­a­tions. It is going to be the toughest expos­ure and exper­i­ence for me because I have to make a lot of adjust­ments like get­ting famil­iar with the truck and util­ising the new driv­ing skills and being accus­tomed to the life­style,” he said.

Before he started work at Anglo American in 2018, Lekgau stud­ied engineering at the Capri­corn TVET Col­lege. “Before being licensed I was doing major repairs, cable rout­ing and install­a­tion of vari­ous com­pon­ents. I was also encour­aging safe work pro­cesses by issu­ing the cor­rect pro­tect­ing equip­ment to my col­leagues and I also man­aged the stor­e­room and kept good house­keep­ing on site,” said Lekgau.

In the years to come, he would like to be a hydro­gen truck safety facil­it­ator to teach oth­ers how to use the machinery. For now, he is elated to be part of new technology.

“Work­ing for engin­eer­ing con­trol tech­niques is a great feel­ing for me because I am meet­ing with goal-driven and hard­work­ing people who are will­ing to help and are kind…that is why I am flex­ible with the work­ing hours and know I am going to be with people who I love being with.”

The launch of the latest hydrogen-powered truck is, therefore, “a gigantic leap for South Africa’s hydrogen future economy,” Ramaphosa said

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