Fuelcell Mine Loader and Prototype Locomotive
The Fuelcell Propulsion Institute, a US-based international technical consortium of more than 30 institutions, is developing the world’s first fuelcell-powered mine loader, a key production element of underground mining. The mining industry faces economic losses resulting from the health and safety deficiencies of conventional underground traction power. Conventional power technologies — tethered (including trolley), diesel, and battery — are not simultaneously clean, safe, and productive. For instance, tethered vehicles are power-dense and clean, but the tether is unsafe and interferes with mobility and productivity. Diesel vehicles are more mobile and theoretically more productive, but their compliance with government emissions regulations reduces actual productivity. Solution of this problem by fuelcells would provide powerful cost offsets to their high current capital cost. Lower recurring costs, reduced ventilation costs, and higher vehicle productivity could make the fuelcell underground vehicle cost-competitive several years before surface applications. Our pathfinding multi-year project will develop and demonstrate a mine loader employing fuelcell power and metal-hydride storage, along with its hydrogen infrastructure. While the project will arguably create the economically most significant fuelcell vehicle yet developed, it will not be the first fuelcell mine vehicle. The first is a mining and tunneling locomotive developed by the Institute and used in the project as a prototype for the loader.
Underground mining, Productivity, Mine Loader, Safety, Fuel cell, Diesel