GE Mining unveiled its Invertex Electric Drive Systems for underground vehicles at MINExpo International 2012 from September 24 to 26 in Las Vegas. Invertex Electric Drive Systems combine an AC drive system and GE’s advanced Durathon Battery energy storage system to propel underground mining vehicles with improved performance, increased reliability and lower life-cycle costs. This new technology represents GE Mining’s commitment to making underground mining safer and more cost-efficient, as well as bringing the clean and innovative solutions of GE’s ecomaginationSM to the mining industry.
At MINExpo 2012, visitors had two opportunities to learn about Invertex Electric Drive Systems for underground propulsion. Individual system components featured at GE Mining’s Booth 7371 included traction and pump motors, the variable frequency combo-drive, the system controller, the operator’s display and the Durathon Battery. These components were also displayed installed in a utility scoop from GE’s Fairchild Mining Equipment at Booth 24001. Here, guests could see how the components work together and how the advanced design saves space to improve maneuverability.
“It’s exciting to be able to combine GE’s breadth of engineering, propulsion and motor leadership with its energy storage expertise to benefit the mining industry in a significant way,” says Geoff Knox, CEO of GE Mining. “As it does for mining trucks on the surface, the Invertex Electric Drive System also can provide underground mines similar opportunities to improve productivity.”
For almost a half century, GE Mining has been solving the world’s toughest mining challenges by creating industry-leading designs such as the electric drives systems that GE introduced in 1963. Today, nearly 5,900 drive systems from GE are operating worldwide.
Invertex Electric Drive Systems feature a compact variable frequency combo-drive that controls the traction and pump motors and is designed to improve wheel slip and speed-on-grade. The traction motor features frameless construction to reduce overall weight, a waterproof design to withstand wet conditions and an easy-access connection cavity. The advanced, scalable system controller offers multiple communications protocol channels, and a compact smart display shows real-time vehicle and system diagnostics. All components are designed to work as an integrated unit, making it possible to fine tune algorithms for optimal performance.
The Durathon Battery energy storage system, a product of ecomagination, replaces diesel or lead-acid battery systems with non-toxic sodium-nickel chemistry. The Durathon Battery is 50% smaller and 25% lighter than traditional batteries, enabling more energy to be stored in a smaller space. In addition, Durathon Batteries can double the life of current battery technology, operate effectively in extreme temperatures and require no cooling and only minimal maintenance. GE’s Durathon Battery cells are recyclable, making the battery a truly sustainable technology. Ecomagination is GE’s initiative to bring to market new technologies that will help customers meet their most pressing environmental challenges.
“Several features of the Invertex Electric Drive System will be very attractive to mines,” says Dann Gwyn, underground product manager. “The compact energy density of the Durathon Battery makes for longer charge cycles with a smaller footprint and the system requires far less maintenance than the traditional lead-acid system. The result is more up time and better utilization of assets.”
Bringing together GE’s electric drive and energy storage systems in underground vehicles will enable mines to reduce diesel particulates, emissions and the need for mine ventilation, as well as reduce maintenance time and cost. Further, the utility scoop outfitted with the new system has been modified to house the smaller battery unit and now features a unique integrated battery tray. The smaller battery package makes the unit lighter for less tire wear and now offers better maneuverability in tight places.
Taking underground global
GE-Fairchild LLC, located in Glen Lyn, VA, manufactures a wide range of underground mining equipment. Besides diesel and battery-operated scoops, the company makes continuous miners, haulage systems, shield haulers and maintenance vehicles, all widely employed across the U.S. mining industry for nearly a century. GE Mining finalized the acquisition of Fairchild in August 2012. Engineers from both businesses have been collaborating to adapt GE’s Invertex Electric Drive System technology for underground equipment and, in fact, the high-performance battery and AC drive systems are being integrated into the Fairchild underground mining utility scoop equipment less than one month after closing the acquisition.
The addition of GE-Fairchild to GE Mining’s portfolio expands GE’s underground product offering to grow the customer base beyond Fairchild’s core U.S. market to serve mining customers worldwide. The acquisition of Fairchild, along with an upcoming acquisition of Australia’s Industrea, Ltd., are part of a development program announced in May 2012 to expand GE Mining to support approximately 35% of the underground mining value chain.