Posted on June 21, 2017
After seven months of construction, the innovative Hydraulic Air Compressor (HAC) Demonstrator project is being unveiled today in Ontario, Canada in a multiparty effort to prove that HACs are the future of ultra-deep mining. A joint undertaking of the Ultra Deep Mining Network (UDMN), Mining Innovation Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation (MIRARCO), Laurentian University, Electrale Innovation Limited, and Reasbeck Construction Inc., the industrial-scale HAC Demonstrator project is located at Sudbury science center Dynamic Earth. Victaulic is a core sponsor of the project, which employs old technology with the aim of offering solutions for today’s ultra-deep conundrums.
Ultra-deep mining, defined as mining below 2.5 kilometers or 8,000 feet, involves a naturally demanding environment and presents a host of unique challenges, some of which include energy costs, cooling, and compressed air supply. HAC technology has the potential to change the game because it is energy efficient, can be used to cool ultra-deep mines, and can produce inexpensive compressed air, promising up to 50% savings in lifecycle cost for mine operators. Integral to the success of the HAC design is the presence of Victaulic material, including large-diameter Advanced Groove System (AGS) products, chosen based on strength along with flexibility. Described onElectrale Innovation Limited’s HAC news page as “state-of-the-art couplings”, Victaulic’s AGS line provided a critical piece of the HAC puzzle:
The HAC needed a pipe coupling solution that not only could pass ASME pressure tests and TSSA inspection procedures, but could also economically deal with the thermal expansion and contraction caused by the ~50 degrees Celsius temperature swings expected of the system. HACs are compressors that, in contrast to many other types of compressors, work better when they are run hotter. It stops the compressed gas the system produces from dissolving in the water that circulates. When we approached Victaulic, we learned that their grooved couplings could provide us with just the right amount of thermal strain accommodation. We ended up adopting Victaulic couplings for in the type design, throughout the whole system: AGS for the large sectioned pipe, and normal cut groove for the smaller sections.
-Dean Millar, Engineering Professor, Laurentian University, MIRARCO Mining Innovation and CEO/President of Electrale Innovation Limited
Today, members of the mining, science, political, and academic communities, along with media, attend the Hydraulic Air Compressor Demonstrator Launch, which includes guided tours, lectures, a reception, and a special briefing from the project’s leader, Dr. Dean Millar. HAC tours will be available to the general public beginning tomorrow. Once applicability for deep mine cooling is proven, the HAC project team looks forward to seeing the fruits of their efforts in the form of full-scale HACs operating in ultra-deep mines for years to come.
To learn more about Victaulic Advanced Groove System technology or to request a demo, click here.
Photos courtesy of Electrale Innovation Limited