Keep on trucking

Online Editor

How nitrogen generators can keep mining trucks on the road.

Oxair Gas Systems is urging the Australian mining industry to embrace the latest on-site gas generating technology to ensure a constant flow of nitrogen to keep truck tyres rolling, improve safety and reduce carbon footprint.

Australia’s mines are a lot more technology-focused, however, they are still very labour intensive. Reducing human exposure to risks such as lightning strikes, exploding tyres on trucks, rock falls, earth tremors and other potentially dangerous situations, such as extreme temperatures, is a focal point for the industry.

Nitrogen-filled tyres protect mine workers by preventing fires when ruptured – an extra tier of safety on large off-highway trucks where the huge wheels are right underneath the driver’s position. They run cooler in extreme temperatures and remain inflated for longer. Unlike compressed air, nitrogen is an inert gas that does not react with other materials, so it’s resistant to corrosion.

Filling with nitrogen has a lot of advantages but it is imperative that there is a constant supply at mining sites so that truck tyres can be fully inflated to reduce the risk of critical air leaks and rapid deflation, especially when vehicles are heavily loaded. Onsite generators can also assist miners to produce nitrogen for other site operations as needed.

David Cheeseman, chief engineer at Oxair, a specialist in gas generation equipment, says: “Being at the mercy of the supply chain for nitrogen cylinders in extreme locations, where conditions are challenging, is risky and costly. Nitrogen can be difficult to transport, not to mention the additional carbon footprint of delivery miles and safety hazards for staff manually moving cylinders from one place to another.”

He adds: “Companies can avoid the hassle of having to outsource their gas by switching to an on-tap supply. A compact nitrogen membrane or pressure swing adsorption (PSA) nitrogen generator on-site is the ideal alternative to manhandling cylinders for heavy-duty equipment where precise or constant pressure is vital.”

Efficient solutions

Nitrogen membranes and PSA nitrogen generators are efficient. They offer a continuous flow of gas extracted from the atmosphere and are an environmentally friendly method of delivery as they reduce the carbon footprint associated with having cylinders transported from an off-site facility – and the return journey when empty.

Producing high purity nitrogen from the air of up to 99.9%, this technology is cheap to run and once installed requires minimum maintenance. Generators are built to last, meet Australian standards, can operate in extreme conditions of temperature and pressure and are user friendly. They can be designed for outdoor or covered facilities as well as offering low energy consumption.

PSA equipment is bringing numerous advantages to Australia’s mining industry. It removes the safety hazards associated with high-pressure gas cylinders and bulk cryogenic liquefied gas as well as supporting the bottom line with a more cost-efficient long-term alternative gas source.

On-site generators provide mines in with a turnkey solution for getting a constant, reliable source of high-quality nitrogen where it is needed. It is clear that with responsible mining practices geared up for long-term sustainability, investments in quality equipment will be key to achieving both safety and sustainability goals.

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