The Morrison Coalition government has decided funding into a University of Wollongong project that is developing what it is claiming as the “first” battery-powered electric transporter vehicle for underground mining.
The technology will use aa new “smart battery” being developed by the UoW.
“With the completion of this grant we hope to have a battery operated vehicle in coal mines across Australia, particularly underground coal mines in both News South Wales and Queensland, providing better control of underground emissions and a safer working environment for miners,” said Dr Khay See from the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials.
“The local and global industries demand for fully battery-powered vehicles for underground coal mining applications is very highly anticipated in the coming years as mining organisations are working towards environmentally friendly and efficient machinery in their workplace.”
The press release says that diesel commonly used by mining machinery and transportation vehicles generates diesel particulate matter (DPM).
“When inhaled, DPM can cause of health problems, including skin irritation, asthma and other respiratory complaints, as well as lung cancer,” the statement says.
“Another common complaint is hearing damage, which can be attributed to noise pollution from loud diesel-powered machines. The confined spaces with minimal ventilation exacerbate the problem.”
And without a hint of irony, and no mention of the pollution impacts from burning coal, it says this will make it easier to mine more coal.
“Our research with the support of our partners will provide an opportunity to help Australia compete internationally in the highly challenging field of harvesting an alternative, clean and reliable power source,” the statement says.
Other mining companies are also looking at battery electric vehicles for underground mines to improve air quality. At BHP’s huge Olympic Dam project, a local company has been trialling an electrified Toyota Landcruiser ute for exactly that (pictured above)
Battery electric vehicles for coal mines in the UK were developed back in the 1990s. This project found that not only were they cleaner, they outperformed the equivalent diesel vehicle both in hill-climbing and top speed capability. In Australia, Swinburne University has also done research on battery vehicles for underground mines.
Dr See and Professor Shi Xue Dou will work with Australia’s National Personnel Group (NPG) and the Shanghai Shechuan Electric (SSE) company on the project.
Another $730,000 granted announced by minister Karen Andrews, from the Federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s Global Innovation Linkages Program, will underpin research into technology that deals with “harmonic” issues on the grid as more wind and solar is connected to the grid.
The project, led by Professor Sarath Perera (from the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences) will investigate ‘Power Quality of Future Electricity Networks’ with UOW researchers Associate Professor Duane Robinson and Mr Sean Elphick.
Harmonics can cause equipment to not operate correctly and in some cases can cause damage or in extreme cases catastrophic failure. They also lead to additional losses (generally manifesting as increased heat) in electricity networks and certain types of equipment and therefore their levels need to be limited and managed.
For more news and analysis about electric vehicles, pleas go to our EV-focused website The Driven, and check out its FAQs and reader’s questions, and its Models page, where you can find a list of all EVs available, or soon to be so, in Australia.