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Electrification and efficiency on show at MINExpo 2021

Electrification and efficiency on show at MINExpo 2021
Photo credit: Komatsu Mining Corp.
This article was published by Kerrie Walker on 17 December, 2021

Following last month's update on the array of innovations on the development of autonomous machines on show at MINExpo 2021, we felt it only fitting to round out our best of the best with a look at the latest advancements in electrification of the mining industry. With a tough field to choose from, these are a few of the stand outs from this year's show.

Komatsu's WE1850 Electric Wheel Loader

Komatsu's WE1850-3 hybrid wheel loader, a 267-ton behemoth with a 59-ton payload was a standout at the event.

The WE1850-3 uses a Generation 3 SR Hybrid Drive propulsion system that reduces fuel consumption by up to 45% and carbon dioxide emission by 35%, in comparison to a traditional mechanical loader or hydraulic excavator

The WE1850-3's SR ("switched reluctance") Hybrid Drive system is paired with a 1,491kW 16-cylinder, turbocharged diesel engine made by either Cummins or Detroit.

Being fully regenerative, the hybrid system reclaims electrical power during braking or retarding actions when its electric motors, being driven by inertia, temporarily act as generators. Likewise, the loader's 1,268-kW Kinetic Energy Storage System (KESS) also captures power produced by braking. The KESS works in conjunction with the SR hybrid drive to store horsepower for use when the WE1850-3 experiences peak power demand.

The machine can move up to 30 cubic metres of material, or a payload just shy of 59 ton and marks the introduction of the WE series and the rebranding of legacy hybrid wheel loaders such as the L1850 and L2350

Dana's Spicer Electrified e-Powershift Transmission

Dana debuted the new Spicer Electrified™ e-Powershift transmission, a modular and flexible two-speed solution that offers power take-off (PTO) functionality for electrified heavy-duty mining vehicles. Designed to not only deliver higher performance and efficiency, this product will also assist in the industry's adoption of electrification as a whole.

Delivering high efficiency and superior performance in a compact package that simplifies the mining industry's transition to electrification, the dual-motor version of the e-Powershift transmission supports continuous power outputs up to 240 kW, while the single-motor configuration is engineered for 120 kW of continuous output.

Its flexible, power-dense design makes it ideal for a wide range of applications, including small to medium-sized loaders and trucks used in underground mining, as well as construction wheel loaders, large lift trucks and terminal tractors. The highly efficient dual-motor configuration shown at MINExpo delivers the optimal tractive effort in every duty cycle without torque interruption, according to Dana.

According to a Dana spokesperson, "The new e-Powershift transmission showcases how we are leveraging our comprehensive portfolio of electrification technologies to provide mining OEMs with complete solutions that can help accelerate their journeys to e-Mobility."

The e-Powershift transmission provides highly efficient shifting through a patented wet clutch and synchroniser, and it can be configured with four-wheel-drive disconnect and a PTO that eliminates the need for an additional motor and inverter.

The Spicer Electrified e-Powershift transmission will be available for prototype testing by OEMs by the end of this year.

Caterpillar's D11 XE

Never one to disappoint, Caterpillar launched a raft of new equipment and technology at this year's event. Touted as the most advanced, most efficient dozer in the industry, the new CAT D11 XE dozer is designed to lower the cost of moving materials. Taking its place as world's largest, most powerful, and efficient electric drive dozer with high drive, the machine has been designed to require fewer parts and longer rebuild cycles.

According to CAT, The D11 XE delivers the lowest cost per ton operation in dozing applications, providing a reduction in fuel costs of up to 25% when compared to the previous model. Additionally, the rebuild cycle is another thing that CAT looks to improve in this model. It claims that the new design will offer 20% longer rebuild cycles and with 60% fewer moving parts, the D11 XE will require fewer touches, which will result in better machine uptime availability.

The D11 XE integrates CAT powertrain, CAT electronics, CAT software and CAT controls and features electronic architecture that allows it to use MineStar Command. This telematics system for mining offers both remote control and semiautonomous dozing.

The D11 XE is currently operating at Caterpillar's dozer proving grounds in Peoria, Illinois, and will then complete an extensive field validation plan before entering full production.

With over 1,100 exhibitors at MINExpo this year, this selection is a mere snippet of mining technology that was on display. It's a long four-year wait until the next MINExpo, so watch this space for news on further advancements in electrification and automation in mining in the months and years to come.

This article was originally published by the Components Only team in the December 2021 issue of "@ The Coal Face" magazine.

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