Suitability of PEM Fuelcells for Underground Mining Vehicles

CIM Montreal 2003
Eric Edwardson, Gary Bonnell, Wayne Lidkea,
Abstract Hydrogen fuelcells are a known technology, having been applied to stationary (e.g equipment, buildings, power plants) and vehicle applications (e.g transit buses, space shuttles). There is currently a growing need to provide alternate power systems to diesel fuel for underground mining vehicles to improve underground air quality, reduce production costs and green house gas emissions.

To date, however, fuelcells have not been exposed to underground mine air and physical conditions. A testing program was carried out to provide information on the vulnerabilities of fuelcells as part of a number of proof-of-concept projects to apply hydrogen power to underground mining vehicles. The fuelcell type of choice for the industry, the Proton Exchange Membrane, would function at the range of temperatures encountered in underground and surface operations, and use hydrogen that is stored under low pressure and risk.

A small fuelcell stack was tested in a cooperative project between CANMET, the Fuelcell Propulsion Institute, INCO, H-Power and the Ontario Ministry of Labour. This presentation will review the tests carried out to measure the effects from high humidity, mineral dust, diesel emission gasses and diesel particulate matter as well as from shock and vibration provided to the unit in underground conditions, at INCO’s 175 Orebody minesite. The test results provided will show that the unit was not affected by the underground conditions: physically and electrically the unit performed without any reduction in operation or adverse effects imposed.
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