Injecting quality into fuel management

The costs of mining have risen exorbitantly in the past 12 months. Despite predicted revenues of approximately $232 billion for FY 2014/15, purchase costs such as those related to fuel as well as ongoing maintenance, account for more than 20 per cent of industry revenues generated. This puts many miners behind the eight-ball before they even start and cutting into already thin margins.

Miners are currently on the hunt for efficiencies that address more than one problem throughout their operation, and one aspect under examination is fuel efficiency; in particular, how to maximise their machines’ common rail fuel injection system. The increased application of these common rail fuel injection systems in the heavy duty engines used in off road mining applications – such as in dump trucks, excavators, drill rigs, and other equipment – is further increasing the need for improved fuel quality at the mine site.

With fuel quality affecting every facet of a mining operation, using the right fuel ensures that all the site’s machines are working at their optimal levels, and that systems not only remain cleaner but also require less maintenance – slashing maintenance costs.

The advances in fuel standards have aided the evolution of diesel fuel, from traditional high sulphur content levels to the modern ultralow levels that have raised the bar. Unfortunately, particles of dirt can still get into the engine and injectors during fuel transfers and storage. For instance, a 120LPM pump working eight hours per day using fluid that is SIO 18/16/13 will pass approximately ten kilograms of dirt in 200 days of operation.

If microparticles of less than ten microns in size find their way into diesel fuel, issues such as fuel injector wear can occur. Furthering this, other negative effects can result, from poor combustion in the chamber, a decrease in power, fuel economy and greater emissions. Deposit build-up in the injector tip nozzle is another factor that can lead to fuel injector degradation in mining engines.

These deposits reduce efficient fuel flow to the combustion chamber and may lead to increased fuel consumption, misfires and pre-ignitions. While isolated incidents of misfires and early detonations can be harmless, an ongoing presence of these issues can destroy engine components and also cause pitting around the piston.

With equipment in mining applications being exposed to far harsher environments than in any other industry, common rail injection systems have finer tolerances and increased fuel injection pressures. These sensitivities highlight the absolute need for improved and sustainable fuel cleanliness.

BP Fuel and Lubricant experts have noted that additional downtime costs are also something to consider when dealing with vehicles in need of maintenance due to poor engine performance. However, BP has developed a new fuel that is specifically designed to overcome issues relating to fuel efficiencies.

The unique fuel, BP Ultimate Diesel, has been tested and proven in laboratory-controlled mining engine dynamometers, as well as in field trials on a number of Australian mines.

According to BP, the on-site results of these trials recorded over a 4 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency. In extensive mining field trials carried out in co-operation with major OEM engine builders, BP also demonstrated significant fuel efficiency benefits by controlling the fuel cleanliness to a sub ISO 16/14/11 cleanliness level.

BP also saw power increases of more than five per cent when running engines on clean fuel versus fuel of “uncontrolled” cleanliness levels, where a fuel efficiency improvement of over 2.5 per cent was achieved via the issue of clean BP Diesel.

However, it is not just fuel standards BP is focused on lifting with its newly developed diesel fuel.

To help operations BP has devised a systemised approach to achieving and maintaining fuel cleanliness on mine sites; the comprehensive fuel integrity and technology FIT program aims to support the customer’s goal of improving efficiency via clean fuel into the engine.

To hear from our experts as to what the Fuel Integrity and Technology (FIT) can do for you, watch this video.

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