Progress in the control of underground diesel emissions

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 74, No. 835, 1981

A. LAWSON, Manager, Centre for Alternative Fuel Utilization, Ontario Research Foundation, Mississauga, Ontario

Continued and expanded use of underground diesel-powered equipment is considered desirable in order to achieve necessary production capability, particularly when coal becomes increasingly in demand as an energy source. Although diesel engines are derated for underground use, concern has been expressed in many quarters regarding the health effects of worker exposure to diesel-generatedpaniculate and NOx emissions. This concern will increase as Canadian diesel fuel quality becomes heavier and with higher sulphur content. This could result in a requirement to increase ventilation rates by 50%.This paper describes the results of studies of various approaches designed to reduce diesel emissions. Two major approaches have been followed: fuel modification, and emission control hardware development. The results of progress in the development of these approaches will be described.Fuel modification includes the application of water/diesel and methanol/diesel fuel emulsions to the engine. Details of the techniques employed in this approach will be described, together with the effects on diesel emissions. (The paper is concerned with the emission aspects only, not the possible major engine modifications and/or substitute materials of construction for 100% methanol.) Use of methanol has the added advantage of acting as a diesel fuel substitute and extender, and there are expectations that underground diesel engines could eventually operate on close to 100% methanol fuel, thereby eliminating particulate emissions. The results of emission control hardware development will also be presented and will include the effects of catalysts, water scrubbers, exhaust filters and exhaust gas recirculation techniques on emissions. A combined systems approach employing a number of these components appears to be the most viable method of controlling the complete array of diesel emissions.This work should culminate in a better understanding of the costs involved in employing fuel modification or emission control hardware relative to the costs of increased ventilation which may be necessary to maintain a safe working environment for the underground worker.
Keywords: Underground mining, Diesel emissions, Equipment, Fuel modification, Emission control, Methanol, Catalysts, Filters, Emulsion