Design, testing, and performance of the world’s first fuel cell mine vehicle - a production locomotive

Abstract A fuel cell mine production locomotive has been designed and tested in the context of a number of mining proof-of-concept projects. The mining industry is poised to take advantage of the benefits of fuel cells to address pressing issues such as underground air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and operating costs.

The locomotive’s simple electric-powered motor and controller system was ideal to study hydrogen power plant operation, underground use, risk and regulatory requirements, comparison to the conventional battery-powered version, and power plant design improvements for other fuel cell vehicles.

Full consideration of the locomotive power system was required before the fuel cell power plant was designed and built: the motor controller, motor design, and motor-towheels gear. Ultimately, a new generation of locomotive, the Warren Equipment NexTec1, was designed to more efficiently transmit the fuel cell power required to optimize haulage needs. The motor was designed and built with a flat performance curve, enabling smooth torque output over a wide operating range. The Icon III Battery Electric motor controller was selected for its advanced safety features and power management design. The drive train consisted of a single series wound motor, directly driving a double enveloping worm gear set with a transmission to a second drive train that mounted the brake disc.

The scope of the work also included the building and testing of a hydrogen power plant to power the locomotive. Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells generated the electrical power. These are supplied with fuel (hydrogen), an oxidant (oxygen), cooling lines for temperature control, and power lines connected to the electrical load. A hydride bed provided a steady supply of hydrogen during operation (stored at low pressure, ~3 bar). The power plant control system monitored the current demand from the power plant and regulated its functions. It also included safety features such as hydrogen overpressure and leak detectors with interlocks, stack warning lights, and a siren for feedback on hydrogen and water conditions.

Preliminary tests carried out at CANMET’s Mining and Mineral Sciences Laboratories’ Experimental mine in Val d’Or, Quebec, demonstrated the safety and viability of the vehicle for mine production. Subsequently, locomotive production performance tests were carried out at Campbell mine in Balmertown, Ontario. The unit and four-ton side-dump cars operated in production for 29.7 hours with the fuel cell power plant and 6.5 hours with the traditional battery pack. A number of parameters were evaluated to compare the battery and fuel cell versions as well as evaluate the latter’s power plant performance and safety. Over 1000 t of material were hauled over a total distance of 65 km.

The fuel cell locomotive proved to be as reliable as the battery version. The maximum 200 motor amps pre-set in the fuel cell power plant controller gave greater voltage and maximum speed than the battery version, but the latter, with 350 motor amps, tended to greater acceleration in the lower speeds. The fuel cell power plant gave steady 100% power for about 8.5 hours of operation. The battery power began to fade ahead of its seven-hour charge capability. The fuel cell power plant did not suffer any breakdowns and no hazardous incidents occurred.

The testing program has clearly demonstrated that a conventional fuel cell power plant design with proton exchange membrane (PEM) type fuel cells is satisfactory for underground vehicle applications in routine production tasks.
Keywords: Design, Testing, Fuel cell, Production locomotive
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Summary: Percussion drilling equipment is widely used in quarries and construction sites. Having some prior knowledge of the potential performance of the selected rock drilling equipment is very important in rock excavation projects for planning and cost estimation purposes. Many investigators have tried to correlate drillability and various mechanical rock properties. However, to date there is no correlation between drillability and the coarseness index (CI) or median particle size (MPS) value. In...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): S. Kahraman, K. Develi, E. Yasar
Keywords: Percussive drills, Penetration rate, Coarseness index, Median particle size, Statistical analysis.
Issue: 1083
Volume: 97
Year: 2004
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Summary: The annual budget for the repair and maintenance of equipment at Syncrude Canada Ltd. is in excess of 450 million dollars. Of this amount, a significant portion can be attributed to the loss of material on various pieces of equipment throughout the operation. In order to effectively battle the different wear and corrosion mechanisms that lead to material loss, it is important to understand how materials behave in the environments in which they are used. Since the start of production in 1978,...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): M. Anderson, S. Chiovelli, S. Hoskins
Keywords: Reliability, Productivity, Wear, Maintenance, Syncrude
Issue: 1083
Volume: 97
Year: 2004
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Summary: LKAB’s Kiruna mine is a large-scale sublevel caving iron operation, located in northern Sweden. Sublevel caving leaves intrinsically no support between the undercut hangingwall and the footwall, so that the hangingwall deforms, fractures, and then caves.The limits of the deformation, fracture, and caving zones widens as the mine deepens.

LKAB has made significant efforts to monitor the deformation zone and predict when it will reach the town of Kiruna, which is located on the hangingwall...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): E. Henry, C. Mayer, H. Rott
Keywords: Interferometry, InSAR, Kiruna, Mining, Subsidence, SAR, Satellite
Issue: 1083
Volume: 97
Year: 2004
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Summary: Introduction

A campaign during the greater part of 2001 at Noranda’s Brunswick mine concentrator investigated the role of gas (air) distribution to the cells in the final Zn cleaning stage. Air-flow was measured as the superficial gas rate (Jg, i.e. the volumetric flow rate per unit cell crosssection) using the Jg sensor designed by the McGill mineral processing group. The distribution is referred to as the “Jg profile.” The final stage comprises two parallel banks of seven Denver DR 100...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): M. Cooper, D. Scott, R. Dahlke, J.A. Finch, C.O. Gomez
Keywords: Air distribution, Profiles, Flotation circuit, Sensors, Brunswick mine
Issue: 1083
Volume: 97
Year: 2004
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Summary: In 2000, CANMET-MMSL was engaged by the Ontario Ministry of Labour (OMOL) to conduct a study of the practices, in several key mining jurisdictions, of determining the criteria that are used to decide when the wire ropes used in mine hoisting are to be retired from service. Subsequently, the author visited key officials and institutions in North America, Europe, and Africa. Material from Australia was also included.

The report that resulted included, among other sections: (1) the history of...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): J.E. Udd
Keywords: Wire ropes, Testing techniques, Mine hoisting
Issue: 1083
Volume: 97
Year: 2004
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Summary: Agnico-Eagle, LaRonde Division, operates the deepest single-lift shaft in North America. Its Penna shaft successfully introduced lower rope safety factor hoists to Canada based on a code of practice developed in South Africa.

End loads permitted on hoisting ropes are legislated and fall into two broad categories. Rope selection can be based on fixed factors, such as a capacity factor of 7.5 and a safety factor of 5.0, or based on a formula where the factor depends on the suspended rope...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): B. McLaughlin
Keywords: Hoisting, Deep shaft, Safety, Regulations
Issue: 1083
Volume: 97
Year: 2004
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