Hydra Project

July 20th, 2020


  • CSIRO Chile, ENGIE and the mining research centre Mining3, lead this initiative aimed to design and manufacture a new powertrain that allows mining vehicles to operate with green hydrogen.
  • This project is one of the winners of the 2020 version of Corfo’s High Technology Program in Chile.


28th of July 2020. Chile takes another big step in its commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 thanks to the support that Corfo will give to the project led by the applied research center of Australian origin CSIRO Chile, ENGIE and Mining3, which will develop hybrid power train modules for Chilean mining in the country, replacing conventional diesel ones with ones composed of state-of-the-art batteries and hydrogen fuel cells (green H2).

With this innovation, one of the winners of the Innova High Technology 2020 program of the Corporation, in the future it will be possible to reduce 100% of the greenhouse gas emissions of mining vehicles, extending to the entire mobility sector (vans to CAEX trucks) and enabling the development of a new economic pole based on green Hydrogen. Therefore, the name “HYDRA” of the project, is to show the aspiration of the work team to generate a versatile prototype, with multiple uses in mining, with the capacity to enable and generate new uses of this clean fuel in the country.

“We are convinced that sustainable recovery is critical to create a more resilient and robust economy for the future. According to this, is key to promote the development of a new industry such as green hydrogen, respectful with the environment and that will also inject more competition and generate thousands of jobs in our country. We hope that the project led by CSIRO Chile, which joins two other projects supported by Corfo and that promote the use of green hydrogen in mining, will be a great contribution in this regard”, said Pablo Terrazas, Executive Vice President of CORFO.

One of the objectives of the project is to design and manufacture of a prototype of this hybrid power train. It will be tested on a test bench, where mining conditions will be replicated, including its operational use profile, under load and different routes, altitude conditions, among others. In turn, the optimal combination of cells/batteries will be obtained; solving connection problems between these sources, will study different strategies of hydrogen recharge, and also will contribute with adaptation and creation of protocols/regulations that guarantee safety in its operation on a large scale.

“Thanks to CORFO’s support and CSIRO Chile’s alliance with ENGIE and Mining3, we are taking concrete steps to transform Chile into a producer and exporter of green hydrogen. With its almost 10 years in Chile and more than 100 in Australia, the CSIRO model based on collaboration, puts the HYDRA project as a concrete example in this regard”, said Dr. Orlando Jiménez, Executive Director of CSIRO Chile.

This initiative also includes studies on the competitiveness of this innovative green hydrogen technology versus its fossil simile, in order to present business cases that will include an analysis of opportunities and the impact of this technology, thus allowing to evaluate potential improvements in the mining business and be aligned to decarbonization goals. To this end, a collaborative platform will be implemented where mining companies will participate to access real operating conditions, fuel cell technology suppliers, hydrogen storage and integration companies, who will contribute their knowledge and experience in validating this technology; and government entities to advance regulatory issues. This will cover the spectrum necessary for the correct absorption and scaling of innovative technology by end-users.
“ENGIE is happy to have CORFO’s support for the Hydra project. We believe that renewable hydrogen is key to decarbonizing the mining industry. We look forward to joining forces with CSIRO Chile and Mining3 to contribute to Chile’s energy transition and help boost the country’s hydrogen economy”, said Michèle Azalbert, CEO of ENGIE’s Hydrogen Business Unit.

The potential Chile currently has in renewable energies allows it to become a global leader in green hydrogen production and, according to data from the Chilean Ministry of Energy, this new fuel could mitigate between a 17% and 27% of national scale greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, becoming a key piece on achieving carbon neutrality by and support also an environmentally friendly, sustainable, and inclusive economic revival.