Natural gas to replace diesel in heavy-duty mining machinery

HDCNG<sup>TM</sup> technology could replace diesel in heavy-duty mining machines.

HDCNGTM technology could replace diesel in heavy-duty mining machines.

Cutting-edge technology, developed in Queensland, will see High Density Natural Gas (HDCNGTM) replace diesel as the fuel of choice for mining machinery.

A joint venture between multinational Sime Darby and The IntelliGas Group has developed technology which promises to significantly reduce fuel costs for miners as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Mine Energy Solutions (MES) has adopted the HDCNGTM technology as well as developing engine and fuel management technology to covert a CAT 3516B engine to dual fuel and enable up to 95 per cent displacement of diesel fuel with natural gas.

MES Executive Director Craig James said the dual fuel converted engine had been fitted to a Caterpillar 789C mine truck, with field trials proving a success at Morayfield in Queensland.

“Average diesel displacement in excess of 80 per cent was achieved over the full range of drive cycle conditions simulated by the trials without loss or torque or power,” said Mr James.

“MES is focussed exclusively on mining applications, initially in Australia, and then internationally. MES sees the HDCNGTM technology to be a ‘game changer’ for the mining industry.”

HDCNGTM is natural gas compressed, transported, stored and dispensed at pressures in excess of 350 bar (5076 psi).

It has approximately twice the energy density of conventional Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and approximately 65 per cent the energy density of LNG.

It has less space and weight claim than CNG and none of the safety in handling and other issues that result from the cryogenic nature of LNG.

The HDCNGTM fuel pack are mounted on the mine truck in four fuel cassettes, each containing two lightweight composite cylinders, which are designed to be robotically exchanged at a refuelling station in less than five minutes on both sides simultaneously.

As a result of the field demonstrations MES is confident that the Caterpillar 789C HDCNGTM dual fuel mine truck will be accepted into a mine fleet for the necessary next step extensive reliability and operational trials as a prelude to commercialisation.

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