Caterpillar’s Underground Mining group is preparing to ship a proof-of-concept battery electric LHD (load, haul, dump machine) to a mine site located in Canada.
The initial build and validation testing of this R1300G test unit began in early 2017 at the Caterpillar Peoria Proving Grounds. It will continue through the fourth quarter and into 2018 at the Canadian mine.
The test machine is a proof-of-concept for packaging and performance of a lithium-based energy storage solution Caterpillar plans to bring to the LHD market.
Its R1300G proof-of-concept does not represent a final design that will go to market, Cat explained. After testing, Cat plans to launch a full-fledged new product introduction program that follows a more in-depth, rigorous design and validation process.
“Our customers are planning for deeper mines with very high ambient rock temperatures where ventilation costs are pivotal to making the mine viable,” Jay Armburger, product manager with responsibility for underground technology, said.
“One means of reducing ventilation demand is through electrification of the mining equipment.”
With over 250 patents in the electric drive and energy storage fields, and products like the D7E dozer, F-Series asphalt pavers, 794 AC and 795F AC large mining trucks, the 988K XE wheel loader, and even microgrid technology, Caterpillar has fully integrated electric drive train technology and components to offer underground machines.
The program started with a full production study and data analysis of the diesel machine to set a baseline. Once this was accomplished, the transformation of the R1300G to a battery electric proof-of-concept began.
The modifications included removing the engine, transmission and torque converter then reconfiguring the engine end frame to accommodate the battery boxes and electric motors.
This resulted in a battery electric powertrain driving a conventional and mechanical drivetrain (drive shafts and axles).
Cat’s R1300G proof-of-concept is an older machine without the benefit of efficient electro-hydraulics.
As a result, it will drive worst case scenario loads on the batteries. The design of the new loader will enhance battery life using load-sensing hydraulics driven by piston pumps such as those on the new Cat R1700.
The less refined proof-of-concept machine will yield solid understanding of heat generation and cooling needs, performance criteria, space claim and safety considerations in the day-to-day operation of the machine.