Context:- In a big push to reduce its carbon footprint, national miner Coal India Ltd (CIL), Ministry of Coal has initiated the process of retrofitting Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) kits in its dumpers – the big trucks engaged in transportation of coal in mines. This is significant as the world’s largest coal miner uses over 4 lakh kilolitres of diesel per annum with an annual expense of over Rs. 3,500 crores.
The company in association with GAIL (India) Limited and BEML Limited has taken up a pilot project for retrofitting LNG kits in its two 100 tonne dumpers operating at the subsidiary Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL). CIL has signed anMoU with GAIL and BEML to get this pilot project executed. Once the LNG kit is successfully retrofitted and tested, these dumpers will be able to run on dual fuel system i.e. both on LNG and Diesel and their operations will be significantly cheaper and cleaner with use of LNG.
“This will be a game changer. The company has over 2,500 dumpers running in its opencast coal mines. The dumper fleet consumes about 65% to 75% of total diesel consumed by the company. LNG will replace the use of diesel by about 30% to 40% and reduce the fuel cost by about 15%. The move will reduce carbon emission significantly and also save around Rs. 500 crores annually if all existing Heavy Earth Moving Machines (HEMMs) including dumpers are retrofitted with LNG kit. Getting rid of diesel pilferages and adulteration are other added advantages,” said a senior CIL executive.
The main goal of the pilot project is to monitor the replacement rate of diesel with LNG in different load and operating conditions and also to capture the details of any change in characteristics of the dumper including cycle time and engine performance parameters, the executive added.
The trial run of dumpers in dual fuel (LNG-diesel) system will be conducted for 90 days in different load and operating conditions. A techno-economic study will be done based on the data generated during the trial run to ascertain the feasibility of the system in CIL mining conditions. Based on the outcome of the pilot project, CIL will decide for bulk use of LNG in its HEMMs, especially dumpers. The company has also planned to buy HEMMs with only LNG engines if this ongoing pilot projects gets success. This move will help CIL reduce its carbon footprint drastically and achieve sustainable goals.
Way forward:-Notably, major mining dumper manufacturers worldwide are now switching overto manufacturing of dumpers having engines with dual fuel (LNG-Diesel) system. CIL’s effort is a big leap towards making a green and cost-effective operations of its machines already running in coal mines.