Battery powered mining equipment runs a lot cooler compared to diesel

Atlas Copco says its newly-launched, battery-powered Scooptram ST7 runs a lot cooler than the same equipment using a diesel engine, says Erik Svedlund, a product manager for electric vehicles.

Svendlund, who spoke to MINING.com at the CIM 2016 Convention in May, says the difference can be quite significant, which in turn has a bearing on underground ventilation costs.

"Diesel engines raise the temperature quite a lot. If you would look at Scooptram ST7 behind me, the diesel version would raise the temperature by about 19 degrees," says Svendlund.

"So if you have 20 degree air coming in, it raises the air temperature to 39 C. While this new battery-powered machine used in the same type of production will actually only raise the temperature by about 3.5 C.

"So, 23 C instead of 39 C. That's a big difference."

Interview with Svendlund has been edited for clarity.

MINING.com: Who are you?

Erik Svedlund: Hi my name is Erik Svedlund, and I am a Product Manager for the Electric Vehicles at Atlas Copco.

MINING.com: Why are electric vehicles important for Atlas Copco?

Erik Svedlund: We see electric vehicles as a part of the future. As mines go deeper and become hotter, ventilation becomes problematic. It's one of the single highest cost drivers at depth. So, electric vehicles remove a lot of the heat load and the need for ventilation underground. I think that batteries will be much more important for mines to stay profitable in the future.

MINING.com: Why are electric vehicles safer?

Erik Svedlund: When you remove the diesel engine, you also remove all the diesel emissions and the diesel particulates. The other aspect is the noise. You lower the noise a lot and also the heat load in the mines. So the areas where the machines are working and where the people are working get much cooler. That’s going to be very beneficial for a worker's health in the long run.

MINING.com: Does a diesel engine in a mine really raise the temperature that much?

Erik Svedlund: Yes actually it does. Diesel engines raise the temperature quite a lot. If you would look at Scooptram ST7 behind me, the diesel version would raise the temperature by about 19 degrees. So if you have 20 degree air coming in, it raises the air temperature to 39 C. While this new battery-powered machine used in the same type of production will actually only raise the temperature by about 3.5 C. So, 23 C instead of 39 C. That's a big difference.

MINING.com: If miners can spend less on ventilation, what does that make possible?

Erik Svedlund: Mines are built around the machines of today. As soon as you change the machines you can also change the mines. Tunnel sizes have to adapt to fit both machine and ventilation. If you can reduce ventilation then you can also make the tunnels ventilation tubes smaller and the tunnels smaller. So actually it will reduce the waste from the mine, and you can actually drive the tunnels at less cost and faster. You can actually reach the ore faster and get quicker payback on your mining investments.

atals copco Scooptram ST7 Battery

Atlas Copco's Scooptram ST7 is powered by Artisan Vehicle Systems's battery.

MINING.com: What has been the customer reaction to the battery-operated ST7?

Erik Svedlund: I think we have gotten very positive feedback at the CIM show. This is the launch; so many people are seeing this for the first time, even though we have been running these machines for two years already to prove the technology. It becomes very important when you introduce new technology that you do it right. These battery machines are something you really want to do right at the first time.

MINING.com: There is something special about the types of batteries; this is a special type of lithium battery that you are using for this truck.

Erik Svedlund: Yes, the chemistry that we use is a lithium iron phosphate. The reason behind that is because it is the safest in the aspect of thermal runaway or fire. You don't want to have a fire on the grounds, so let's go safe.

MINING.com: Why did you start with this particular piece of equipment for using battery technology?

Erik Svedlund: I think the ST7 is the right size for us to start. Normally the mines that use this type of equipment are narrow vein type mines, and they are following the ore bodies, which make them quite small tunnels and consequently become quite difficult to ventilate. So they are some of the biggest benefits, so I think that is the right size to start from.

MINING.com: What's the future for battery technology? What would you see taking this application out to other products or services in Atlas Copco?

Erik Svedlund: I think you will see a lot more battery equipment in the future. The potential savings and the health aspects around it are obvious. In a broader sense, the battery technology can eliminate carbon emissions locally, and also because they are so efficient, even if you produce electricity with coal power, it can lower the carbon emissions 25%, but if you also consider savings in ventilation, when carbon emission count that this one can reduce is 25-200% which is fantastic.