In trials, GE’s sodium metal halide Durathon batteries (earlier post) have successfully powered GE Mining’s Scoop, an underground vehicle that transports mining materials, at Coal River Energy, LLC in Alum Creek, West Virginia. GE Mining and GE’s Energy Storage, two businesses within GE Transportation, collaborated to combine the Durathon battery with GE’s Invertex electric underground propulsion system to develop a more advanced and efficient mining scoop.
|The Durathon-powered Scoop at work. Click to enlarge.
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.
|Sodium-metal halide cell basic chemistry. Click to enlarge.
The Durathon Battery energy storage system replaces lead-acid battery systems with non-toxic sodium-nickel chemistry. GE’s Durathon battery technology features a number of benefits that make the technology faster, cleaner and better than traditional batteries, including at least 40% more operating range. The battery is 25% smaller and 50% lighter than traditional lead-acid batteries, enabling more energy to be stored in a smaller space. The battery-powered scoop operates more effectively in extreme temperatures and requires no cooling and minimal maintenance.
Additionally, the battery contains no lead acid materials. This eliminates the release of gases when charging, removes explosive fuel sources underground and reduces mineworker exposure to diesel particulate matter – three key safety priorities for the mining industry.
GE Mining acquired Fairchild’s underground mining equipment in 2012. Following the acquisition, GE Mining initiated a program to combine the Fairchild underground mining scoop together with GE’s Invertex underground propulsion system and Durathon battery technology into an advanced underground mining solution.
The scoop performed well and we are eager to see the final product. The lightweight, high density battery’s ability to reduce maintenance and charging time while allowing for easier maneuverability will provide advantages over today’s lead-acid scoops.—Carl Estep, maintenance manager at Coal River Energy, LLC.
GE Mining will continue testing this technology; the Durathon battery-powered scoop is expected to be available in 2014.