Testing in Australia shows viability of CNG in mining applications

Testing of a Caterpillar mining truck operating on High Density Compressed Natural Gas is demonstrating the feasibility of CNG in mining applications.

Gas Energy Australia

The trial of a new prototype high density compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel system in Australia is attracting the attention of the mining industry, government and others, as a Caterpillar 789C goes through it’s paces in Queensland. Achieving up to 90% fuel displacement, the heavy-duty mine truck is demonstrating the benefits of using cleaner, cheaper natural gas.

The field trials of the dual-fuel mine truck at Morayfield this month attracted more than 150 government and industry representatives from the mining and gas industries over 10 demonstration days.

The Caterpillar 789C mine truck uses High Density Compressed Natural Gas (HDCNG) which has around twice the energy density of regular CNG, while remaining more affordable and less polluting than diesel. The truck is fitted with a CAT 3516B engine which uses the IntelliGas Group’s unique engine monitoring technology, fuel management technology and High Density Compressed Natural Gas (HDCNG) fuel systems.

Mining Energy Solutions (MES) Executive Director Craig James says results of the testing show that the HDCNG technology could be a game changer for the mining industry through its potential to displace the use of diesel.

“An average diesel displacement of more than 80% is being achieved over the full range of drive cycle conditions simulated by the trials, without loss of torque or power,” says James.

“This will allow mine operators to reduce their fuel costs, cut carbon emissions by up to 25% and significantly reduce harmful particulate pollution without compromising one vehicle performance.”

Importantly, drivers involved in the trial reported improved comfort in the truck cab due to reduced noise and vibrations achieved by running on the HDCNG system. The engine technology can be retrofitted to any type of manned or automated mining vehicle and the conversion can also be easily reversed.

MES intends to provide a unique end to end fuelling solution for mining customers: it will convert the engines, source natural gas, compress it to HDCNG, transport it to the mine site and provide re-fuelling systems.

Gas Energy Australia’s CEO Mike Carmody spoke of the development of the mine truck prototype and the
promising test results as an exciting advancement for Australia’s gaseous fuels industry. “Natural gas is an abundant, Australian fuel that is positioned to improve our country’s energy security, environmental responsibility and public health as a viable alternative to imported diesel.

“Technological developments such as this will help make this a reality by harnessing the benefits of gaseous fuels and overcoming barriers to their application and uptake,” Carmody says.

The mine truck prototype was demonstrated by Mine Energy Solutions (MES), a collaboration between
Queensland-based gas technology specialist The IntelliGas Group and Malaysian international Sime Darby, owners of Brisbane-based Caterpillar dealer, Hastings Deering.