Energy Efficiencies - Ventilation on Demand
With increasing energy costs, an Australian gold mining company asked Super Smart Energy to identify ways to increase reliability and performance underground whilst saving money and increasing sustainability by reducing their carbon footprint.
The data suggested that a Smart Ventilation Unit (SVU) be used to allow the fan to regulate the flow of air to match the demand profile of the underground operation. The SVU would provide the control needed and if the resistance changed for any reason, the unit would ensure all working areas still received the required air flow. The SVU can be over opened to provide 115% ventilation capacity for blasting, or to increase the airflow by up to an additional 30 m3/s. The benefits of such a system allows for quicker re-entry times resulting in an increase in productivity.
The smart controller in each fan starter panel controls the output at each heading and receives signals from the flow metres to regulate the flow in the drive. If required, the system is designed to default to a preset flow. A more advanced tracking system provides an alert for any machinery entering into a heading. The system is also programmed with a minimum requirement where a small nominal flow, above the amount required for personnel to enter the heading, is preset to ensure safe working conditions are maintained. This also ensures there is no down time for the machinery as without this nominal flow, machinery would need to wait at the entry to evacuate any fumes or gases.
A key feature of the system is integrated with the use of existing communication methods used on site. As a result, each piece of equipment has an assigned value and thus demand is controlled and the fan raises and reduces load based on the real time demand in the mine. If intervention is required, changes can be made in minutes rather than a manual process of accessing the starter to change the setting.
Savings of nearly $1 million per year were achieved with a return on invest (ROI) of less than 12 months. CO2 emissions were reduced by 2,447 tpa. With a mine life of 5 years, the opportunity to add a positive economic and environmental impact was significant.