Underground Fuel Cell Loader Design and Performance

CIM Montreal 2007
Omourtag Velev, Bryan Brown, Gaetan Desrivières, Marc Bétournay,
David Barnes, Omourtag Velev, Bryan Brown, Gaetan Desrivières , M.C. Bétournay

The underground mine loader is the mainstay of international underground metal mine ore production. Power requirements range from 120 kW to 300 kW depending on the size of the vehicle and payload. Vehicle duty cycles can be variable depending on the required tasks, but significant power requirement is usually required for definite periods (30-60 seconds). Other power challenges include simultaneous operation of traction and hydraulic motors during loading, and operation of the vehicle without refuelling over a 6-10 hour period depending on the shift duty.

This article presents the historical development of the loader power plant architecture starting with the world`s first in-use fuel cell-powered mine vehicle, a production locomotive, which provided a straightforward controller-motor-power plant architecture experience towards the fabrication of a more complex loader power plant architecture.

A 160 kW, 23 metric-ton fuel cell hybrid mine loader has been built and is currently going through final power plant-vehicle integration testing before full mine operation application. The power plant design is based on empirically determined duty cycle for mine loaders. A fuel cell-rechargeable battery hybrid power plant design was chosen for the high but narrow power peaks and the ability to recover some of the vehicle kinetic and potential energy as it descends underground ramps.

The following power plant aspects will be discussed:

? Traction and hydraulic motor selection, net power requirements
? Power plant specifications
? Fuel cell type selection
? Rechargeable battery selection
? Metal hydride hydrogen storage and bed architecture selection
? Mine operation vehicle refuelling requirements and bed and battery cooling systems
? Vehicle and power plant control systems
? Hydrogen monitoring and control systems

Power plant assembly aspects and diagnostics approaches will also be presented. The vehicle delivery and underground operating test programs and success criteria will also be presented.

Aspects of regulatory compliance, mine operation and other requirements will also be presented.
Keywords: hydrogen, Mine loader testing, Hybrid vehicle power plant, Fuel cells, Underground mine loader
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