Zero-emission air compression

As a globally renowned OEM, Atlas Copco is driving the next evolution in sustainable air compressor solutions.

Diesel is one of the world’s great conveniences, providing accessible and typically affordable fuel for heavy industries.

But as prices rise and the need to decarbonise increases, there is a rising push to consider cost-effective, sustainable alternatives.

Compressed air is a key source of power in the Australian resources sector, supporting a range of applications from exploration drilling to maintenance, blasting and underground ventilation systems.

As technologies advance, zero-emission air compressors are the next evolution in this space, and Atlas Copco has developed a solution that will limit a mining company’s carbon footprint while maintaining its output.

Enter Atlas Copco’s E-Air range of air compressors, which deliver several key advantages for the Australian mining sector.

“One of the advantages of the E-Air range compared to diesel options is a reduction in maintenance costs, as the compressors require very little service” Atlas CEA brand leader David Buttigieg told Australian Mining.

“The E-Air compressors have a longer operational life, they’re more portable, and because mine sites have existing power generation, mining companies can just plug in and go.”

The E-Air air compressors deliver several key advantages for the Australian mining sector.

Remove the need for fuel costs and the E-Air range reduces the total cost of ownership.

“The cost of ownership is a lot less because you’re not running the diesel, you’re not maintaining the diesel – you’re only servicing the air-end inside, which is a lot more efficient compared to previous filtration systems in the Atlas range.”

E-Air maintenance is not only less frequent (once every two years or after 2000 hours) but also quick and easy when the times comes, with complete servicing taking as little as 30 minutes on most models. 

“Atlas Copco has redeveloped the way filtration systems run,” Buttigieg said. “The E-Air compressors up to 450 cfm (cubic feet per minute) use spin off filters, which reduces down time and cost of ownership.

“The E-Air range can be serviced a lot faster and easier.”

Buttigieg said the E-Air portfolio offers compressors from 185cfm up to 1100cfm. The efficiency of the E-Air range equates to 40 per cent more air flow from the same power consumption.

There is also increased control in the flow and pressure of the E-Air range. This is because they operate on a variable speed drive (VSD) and Atlas Copco’s pace technology, which allows operators to easily control the flow and pressure.

“If mining companies have applications where they need a smaller amount of air and pressure, they can easily wind that down,” Buttigieg said.

“If they need something in between, they can do that, and if they need increased air and pressure through pace technology, then they have the maximum flow and pressure that the machine was sold at.

“That gives them more control and a higher level of operator safety than what is possible with a diesel engine.”

The VSD motor also enables a low-power start, meaning operators don’t require a high-power load to start the machine.

Having established a strong footprint in industries such as mining, construction, oil and gas, underground jack leg drilling, abrasive blasting and marine applications, the E-Air compressors are still building a following in the Australian mining sector.

But as environmental, social and governance (ESG) obligations increase, mining companies need to be open-minded if they are going to hit their sustainability targets.

While battery-powered air compressors are on the horizon, the technology is still in its early stages. This is where the E-Air range can be the stepping stone out of diesel and towards a more environmentally friendly mining operation.

And an electric air compressor range from a globally renowned original equipment manufacturer such as Atlas Copco is as good as any, something further complemented by the capabilities of Atlas’ Australian distributor, Atlas CEA.

Atlas CEA has a comprehensive service team across its branches in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and South Australia, as well as through its regional service partners, with technicians at the ready for servicing or if a customer runs into any troubles.

This feature appeared in the September 2023 issue of Australian Mining.

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