why electric mining vehicles are starting to take off - abb conversations
Regenerative drives built for rugged mining vehicles are enabling better total efficiencies, helping mine operators achieve savings in energy consumption, heat and gas emissions, and ventilation systems.
You probably know that the mining industry is today facing difficult challenges due to depressed prices for its products. Looking further down the road, however, a lot of progressive companies are seeing big potential in fully-electric or hybrid-electric vehicles, such as trucks, front loaders, drill rigs and excavators. OEM vehicle producers as well as mine operators have realized that, when used as part of a long-term strategy, electric mining vehicles can offer many advantages.
The bottom line, of course, is the bottom line electric vehicles can bring significant cost savings to mining companies. And in times like today, when profitability is extremely squeezed, every possible cost saving helps mine operators. But even when the market is up, electric vehicles have the potential to further improve the healthy margins. Numerous factors have converged in the past few years to lead OEM vehicle manufacturers to introduce models with hybrid-electric or even fully-electric functionality. And the mine operators are paying attention.
Frankly speaking, the capital investment required for electric vehicles based on batteries can be significantly more than the present diesel technology. But even if you consider this, payback times of one to two years are feasible, and immediate payback is even possible in some cases.
Diesel engines are the traditional industry standard for mining, but at the same time they are inherently very inefficient at converting energy input into movement output. In the best case, they can achieve about 45% efficiency, with the rest of the energy lost to waste heat. Electric drive trains, on the other hand, can easily reach an energy efficiency of 90% or more.
Until now, the diesel engine driven drive train has been the dominant technology for mining, and there are good reasons for that. The mining environment is very tough and the diesel engine driven system is robust enough to withstand challenging conditions. These include high ambient temperatures, constant vibration, violent shocks, harsh start/stop load cycles, corrosive acidic liquids and gases, aggressive pressure washing and other unforgiving treatment.
With these facts in mind, and in close cooperation with mining-vehicle OEMs, ABB Drives and Controls has recently been developing drives which effectively control electric motors in low/no-emission mining equipment. Starting with a blank sheet of paper, the strategy has been to design a new tailor-made drive from the ground up. Were not simply repackaging standard products, but instead designing rugged and purpose-built drives. As a global player with the largest market share in variable frequency drives, ABB judges this to be the best way to catalyze faster growth in electric mining vehicles.
The regenerative function of drives is a critical factor, as it allows braking energy from the motor, and even from hydraulic pumps, to be captured and then stored in a battery or super capacitor. The drive acts to control the flow of energy, and transform any kinetic or potential energy back to electric energy.
Ventilation and air circulation are also key drivers . . . and big cost items in underground mines. Since electric vehicles greatly reduce both waste heat and emissions generated, the ventilation requirements for electric vehicles are lower compared to diesel driven engines. On a daily basis, this can drastically reduce the cost of energy needed to circulate air to meet health and safety requirements, saving millions of euros per year. And, when a mine expansion is being considered, the reduced heat and emissions from electric vehicles means dimensioning of the ventilation system can be significantly smaller and therefore much cheaper.
Maintenance costs and reliability are other important issues you need to consider. Many OEMs have realized, as they have been working closely with electric vehicles and drives, that the maintenance cost for electric is much less due to fewer wearing parts. For example, there is no gearbox, and no oil lubrication system is necessary.
Diesel-electric combinations are also possible, to extend the vehicle range. In series-hybrid technology, the diesel runs a generator which feeds electricity to the motors to drive the vehicle. Besides greater range, a further key benefit is that, instead of using diesel for the maximum peak power, the dimensioning of the diesel engine can be smaller to cover the average power demand.
Considering all these requirements for electric mining vehicles, and based on careful listening to the market, ABBs has developed the new purpose-built HES880 mobile drive. This is a totally different design from anything available previously, although it is established on the well-proven ACS880 all-compatible drive technology, which mine operators and OEMs are already familiar and comfortable with.
In addition to being robust and compact, this electric-vehicle drive is a modular product, based on a single design model and three different firmware. The single-design model can easily be tailored to specific applications simply by installing the appropriate firmware. These software options can control the motor and generator, the power grid connection, and power flow to and from the energy storage. So the hardware is the same whatever the application, allowing you to simplify stocking of equipment based on interchangeability of parts.
Due to the compact size of the drive, vehicle layout becomes much more flexible. As opposed to diesel, where the engine and power train are very fixed in the positioning in the middle of the vehicle, electric drive lines can be more flexibly placed to allow the driver a greater field of view in the workspace. As the electric vehicle technology develops, this could well mean more user-friendly and safer equipment.
The mining industry, like many other older established sectors, is inherently conservative about adopting new technology. So although it has taken some time electric vehicles to gain acceptance, the growing list of advantages is clearly starting to get noticed by the progressive pioneers at OEMs and mining companies.
Considering the large potential cost savings and efficiencies that electric vehicles offer, as well as the short payback times, ABB has decided to invest resources in this technology to catalyze these trends. Based on ABBs global expertise and reach with respect to drives, new mining-vehicle solutions like the HES880 drive have the potential to create both a stronger market pull from the mining operators and a greater market push from the OEMs that will be very beneficial to the mining industry.
mining equipment | mining equipment
Mining Equipment specializes in rail mounted equipment. We have a very large inventory of diesel, battery and trolley locomotives in stock. Various models by Plymouth, Clayton, Brookville, Schma, Goodman, Greensburg and General Electric can be offered. In addition to locomotives, we also have a large inventory of rolling stock such as muck cars, flat cars and mantrips. Mining Equipment also builds new rolling stock to meet our customers needs.
Our ventilation division, Jetair Axiflow Fans, offers a full range of underground ventilation fans and accessories. We now offer our Super-Silenced fans which run quieter and take up less space than conventional fan and silencer combinations. To compliment our fans, we also offer steel ventilation ducting, rolled on-site for your mine or tunnel.
Mine Hoists International is a fully-owned subsidiary of Mining Equipment. Based in North Bay, Ontario, Mine Hoists boasts a large selection of used mine hoists and stage winches. We have more than 35 mine hoists and 60 stage winches, up to 80,000 lbs. capacity.
Mining Equipment is North Americas exclusive agent for Metalliance. Metalliance is the world leader in the design and production of tunnel multi-service vehicles. Mining Equipment is also the exclusive agent for Trident SA (Goodman, Eimco) in the United States. Trident manufactures Goodman battery locomotives in South Africa as well as Eimco over-shot muckers.
electrification of underground mining equipment | oem off-highway
The search for more resources is driving many mining companies to delve deeper underground to extract more materials. According to Dann Gwyn, Product Manager for Underground Mining at GE Mining (GE, company information, 10784190), Glen Lyn, VA, the deeper miners and equipment go into the earth, the less cost effective it is to use machinery running on diesel technology due to the large amount of ventilation infrastructure that is necessary to keep the working environment safe.
According to Tobias Unosson, Product Manager for Minetrucksat Atlas Copco (company information, 10270369), Commerce City, CO, up to 30% of an underground mines total running costs go towards powering large-scale ventilation systems.
While advancements in diesel technologies, such as Tier 4 engines, have helped to minimize the amount of pollutants released into the atmosphere, Gwyn notes there are still diesel fume and diesel particulate matter (DPM) emissions that can be hazardous. We see a great advantage in removing the diesel entirely which alleviates these problems along with the heat and noise that the engines produce, he says.
Electric power is the future, says Unosson. Electricity is superior from the point of view of energy efficiency and the purest form of energy we know today. In addition, the price of oil is not likely to get any lower."
GE is currently focusing much of its development efforts on integrating its Invertex propulsion system (more information, 10796452) and Durathon battery technology into the companys scoop product line. With the Invertex system, an AC electric drive, which controls traction and pump motors, is used to propel the vehicle forward or backwardwhile the Durathon battery provides power to the entire vehicle.
According to Gwyn, the Durathon battery offers greater energy density than other battery technologies due to its sodium-nickel-chloride chemistry. This formula also makes the battery less toxic, longer lasting, as well as contributes to its temperature stability. Unlike many other types of batteries, the Durathon battery does not require a cooling period once it is finished charging. Instead, it can be used immediately and eliminates the need for multiple batteries to be kept on hand to accommodate for the charging and cooling-off periods other types of batteries typically need.
Gwyn says the battery also comes with a Battery Management System (BMS) that controls each battery module and ensures that it is operating correctly,protecting itfrom failure modes industrial batteries often face.
Combining the Invertex system together with the Durathon battery offers several performance benefits that Gwyn notes are not often available with diesel-run vehicles. These include better low-end torque, wheel slip control, better diagnosticand fault identification for improved maintenance, and the ability to provide real time data gathering. Overall we see that battery technology provides for a lower Life Cycle Cost (LCC), provides better performance, and [is] safer to operate, says Gwyn.
In addition to the performance, health and safety benefits electric/battery powered vehicles can offer, there are also cost benefits, with fuel savings being one of the most obvious. Depending on the vehicle, it typically costs upwards of $100 to fill a tank versus around $20 to charge a battery, says Gwyn. He adds that maintenance costs are also drastically reduced by eliminating the changing of oil, maintaining the transmission, and replacement of filters to reach the different Tier levels.
Eliminating the use of diesel technology reduces the cost of ventilation infrastructure, as well. The cost of ventilation for removing the DPMs can often be reduced, allowing for further savings in both the installation and running of the increased ventilation, explains Gwyn.
While GE is focusing much of its efforts at the moment on integrating the Invertex and Durathon technologies into its scoop products, the company will begin adding it to other underground product lines in the near future.
For the Electric Minetruck EMT35 and EMT50, electric motors directly drive the trucks axles and wheels while an electrified trolley rail powers the trucks as they move up and down ramps within the underground mine. Once there is no access to the overhead trolley rail, such as when a truck reaches a loading or dumping station, Unosson says the truck disengages from the trolley and automatically activates a small, onboard diesel engine that drives the vehicle.
Energy consumption in the trucks is reduced up to 70% due to the use of the electric motors. Because diesel engines have mechanical and heat losses, they are less efficient than the motors. Use of the electric motors also allows the trucks to be much faster than diesel-powered mine trucks in their same weight class. According to Unosson, the combination of the electric motors with the power supply of the trolley rail system creates more power in a smaller package, enabling the electric mine trucks to be twice as fast as their diesel counterparts.
Further efficiency is gained through the use of a regenerative braking system. As the mining truck descends down a ramp, the electric motors capture energy released by the brakeswhich have been activated to slow the trucks speed while it travels down the rampand put that energy back into the trucks electrical system. Atlas Copco says almost 30% of the energy consumed while the truck is driving up the ramp will be regenerated as it descends.
Also introduced as part of the Green Linewere the Electric Scooptram EST1030 and EST14. Unosson says these LHDs use electric motors developed by ABB (company information, 10239005) to power the vehicles. In addition to the electric motor, the EST1030 also uses a 132 kW electric engine. By using an electric motor instead of diesel engine, the LHD consumes less energy as well as generates less heat and noise. By replacing diesel powered equipment with electric powered equivalents, mines can realize huge potential savings at the same time as they improve the environment, not to mention the spin-off effect of increased job satisfaction and reduced personnel turnover, says Unosson.
Included on the electric LHDs is a cable reel management system, called the Low Tension System, which is designed to keep a 3 to 400 meter electrical cable constantly under control. Unosson explains that electrical cables used for LHDs are typically expensive and exposed to high wear in underground mines. If the cable is too tight it can damage walls and corners or restrict vehicle mobility while too much slack increases the risk of the cable being run over or becoming snagged under the vehicle. [The Low Tension System] actually lays the cable smoothly in the path of the machine by deploying and retracting the cable at the exact rate of speed of the machine, says Unosson.
With improvements in energy efficiency and emissions reduction being an ever-increasing focus for the underground mining industry, development of electric-powered equipment by mining OEMs will continue in the coming years. Both Atlas Copco and GE already have plans in the pipeline for which of their vehicles will be available next in an electric version. Atlas Copco believes in sustainable productivity and will keep developing products to suit our customers current and future needs, concludes Unosson.
dc electric mining vehicles | industrial utility surface underground mining electric vehicles | johnson industries
Johnson Industries is your trusted manufacturer and provider of DC mining vehicles. Long before the Johnson Brothers were building mining equipment for coal miners, we were digging coal with fellow coal miners. What better credentials would a manufacturer of mining equipment need? In other words, we have been there and done that. We understand the inner workings of mining equipment first hand because we have "hands-on" experience that some manufacturers may lack. That speaks well for the quality of equipment Johnson Industries manufactures, and explains the unsullied reputation we have earned over the years.
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