Evaluation of a soybean oil based diesel fuel in an underground gold mine

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 90, No. 1015, 1997

J.F. McDonald, Center for Diesel Research, Department of Mechanical Engineering University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, B.K. Cantrell, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, W.F. Watts, Jr., and K.L. Bickel, Center for Diesel Research, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota

A field trial was conducted at an underground gold mine to evaluate diesel fuel derived from soybean oil (soy-methyl-esters or “biodiesel”) as an alternative to commercial, low-sulphur, number 2 diesel fuel (D2). A 2.7 m3, 18-ton load-haul-dump (LHD) unit, powered by a naturally aspirated, indirect injection (pre-chamber), 100 kW diesel engine was used as the test vehicle. The LHD was equipped with a diesel oxidation catalyst. The LHD operated satisfactorily on the biodiesel fuel. Operators observed a slight decrease in power and an absence of black smoke. Diesel particulate matter (DPM) concentrations were monitored for a six-week period while the LHD was operated with either the biodiesel fuel or the D2 fuel. DPM concentrations were measured in the mining section’s clean air intake, exhaust and on the LHD. Reduction in DPM emissions was determined from the measured difference in DPM concentrations between the clean air intake and the exhaust. The biodiesel fuel reduced energyspecific DPM emissions approximately 75%, from 3.6 ± 1.8 g/kW-hr to 0.86 ± 0.27 g/kWhr. Time-weighted average DPM exposure, measured near the LHD operator, was reduced from 0.67 ± 0.13 mg/sm3 to 0.28 ± 0.12 mg/sm3, or approximately 58%, when the biodiesel fuel was used.