Excavators go up in flames

The Queensland Department of Mines and Energy (DME) has released a safety bulletin after the Mines Inspectorate noticed an increase in the occurrence of diesel engine turbocharger fires.

The Queensland Department of Mines and Energy (DME) has released a safety bulletin after the Mines Inspectorate noticed an increase in the occurrence of diesel engine turbocharger fires.

The Department retained data from the coal industry that showed 30% of all turbocharger fires occurred on excavators, followed by track dozers (15%) and rear dump trucks (12.5%).

60% of the fires resulted from hydraulic or engine oil spraying on the turbocharger. 11% of the fires were caused by engine fuel contacting the turbocharger and 13% from turbocharger failure.

According to the report, the surface temperature of turbochargers can exceed 500° C during a normal operating cycle, and this temperature can rise beyond 600-700°C following engine shutdown.

Irrespective of whether the turbochargers are heat shielded, the turbocharger’s surface temperature is hot enough to ignite fuel or oil when it comes into contact with it.

The Department recommended all mines review the prevention, monitoring and contingency controls to ensure the risk from turbocharger fires is adequately controlled.

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