New Acland dual-fuel hybrid truck technology goes global

New Acland mine workers farewell the truck. Image: New Hope Group.

A dual-fuel hybrid truck trialled at New Hope Group’s New Acland mine in Queensland has captured the attention of the global mining industry.

The high-density compressed natural gas truck has proven to be a worthy substitute to diesel-powered machines after completing a 21-month trial and registering 6200 hours in real-world conditions at the mine.

It has overcome weight and space issues that previously limited technology using compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas on trucks.

The trial, a collaboration between the New Acland mine, Mine Energy Solutions (MES) and Hastings Deering, has revealed a series of environmental, safety and financial benefits, including a 25–30 per cent reduction in fuel costs.

According to the companies, the technology also delivered a reduction in greenhouse gases of more than 30 per cent, a reduction in diesel particulate emissions of more than 80 per cent, and the capability to operate a full 12-hour shift without refuelling.

They believe the system, if used globally, could remove 21 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum once the 44,000 trucks operating around the world are factored in.

New Acland mine general manager David Vink said the revolutionary technology enabled the conversion of high horse-powered diesel engines from 100 per cent diesel to dual-fuel operation, using natural gas as the dominant fuel through sequential gas injection.

“When MES first looked for project partners in Queensland there was no one interested,” Vink said.

“But we could see the potential for this technology from the outset. Now, after nearly 24 months operating on site, clocking more than 6200 hours, we’ve piqued the interest of the big boys and the sceptics.

“We’ve taken the technology from an R&D project to ready for commercial application. Actually beyond that – it has already been taken up commercially which has signalled the end of the trial.”

The trial was originally planned to run for six months in 2016, but evolved further off the back of data collected as the initiative progressed.

Vink said the project was now going global with a dozen companies visiting the site to view the high density compressed natural gas (HDCNG) truck project.

“The success of the trial is evidenced by the fact the idea is being commercialised in central Queensland before being rolled out in other parts of Australia and into North America,” Vink said.

“This is world-first technology and we are proud to have been the incubator of it in our own backyard.”

MES chief executive officer Cameron Smith said the trial had been a success in multiple ways.

“We wanted to see what worked and what we could break in a real-world environment and we achieved that operating at the New Acland mine for 6200 hours,” Smith said.

“Not only did we prove the durability of all the various components but, as we found the weaknesses, we found innovative and practical solutions together with shareholder Intelligas and our partners at New Acland Coal.”

The trial was also lost time injury free due to many of the systems being automated.