Research underway to 'go green' underground in Sudbury
SUDBURY -- On Tuesday morning, the federal government announced $3.5 million in funding to advance green energy technology in Sudbury.
The money is being used for research to transform mining equipment to make it more environmentally friendly and will also help advance jobs in the green energy sector.
In one project, students at Cambrian College are working with a local company FVT Research to convert a scoop used in underground mines from diesel to electric.
Brad Zimmerman is the chief technology officer at FVT Research.
"We are developing a battery-electric drive train for a large scoop, like the one behind us. By taking the diesel, mines get to circulate less air, which is tremendously expensive for them. Huge cost savings for the mine to be able to move toward battery-electric and a safer environment for the workers too," said Zimmerman.
Another project receiving federal funding involves researching natural heat exchange underground using fractured rocks.
Jennifer Abols is the executive director of the Goodman School of Mines.
"The funding will be used to do research and software modelling to allow us to try and duplicate the natural heat exchange currently in use at Vale’s Creighton Mine," said Abols.
Cambrian College President Bill Best says research is needed to find solutions to real-world, real-time challenges.
"One of the most aggressive parts of electrification is actually in the mining sector, because not only does it help with the extracting of the fumes from diesel, it helps with the cooling issue and the long-term sustainability of that sector," said Best.
Officials say the research being funded by the federal government to advance clean technology in the mining sector could also be used in other industries as well.
Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré believes the research could also have impacts in First Nation communities.
"Eliminate the diesel underground, it’s really important and not only a benefit when you look at this. This could be a benefit for research for First Nation communities that are on diesel. Many First Nations across northern Ontario have only diesel as their source," said Serré.
Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre announced the $3.5 million investment at Cambrian College to faculty, students and industry partners.
"As we transition, it means we are not using diesel engines anymore. We are using battery engines, which is totally different. So, these are the jobs of the future, because we need to scale up. We need to make sure that we have the education that fits into that world as well,” said Lefebvre.
Officials involved in both projects say they will help Canadian companies become more competitive in the global green energy market.