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Hydraulic air compressor demonstrator on track for June commissioning

Underground module of hydraulic air compressor lowered into position at Dynamic Earth in Sudbury.

Underground module of hydraulic air compressor lowered into position at Dynamic Earth in Sudbury.

MIRARCO – Mining Innovation’s hydraulic air compressor (HAC) demonstrator project is approaching the close of its construction phase at Dynamic Earth in Sudbury. All underground modules have been installed, the steel has been erected, circulation tanks and pumps have been positioned on the tower, and the building is being clad. Reasbeck Construction Inc. plans to hand over the installation to the commissioning team in May.

“In a hydraulic air compressor (HAC), circulating water acts simultaneously as the compressing medium and the cooling medium in a continuous gas compression process,” explained Dr. Dean Millar, director of energy, renewables and carbon management at MIRARCO, and a professor of engineering at Laurentian University. “Theoretically, this isothermal gas compression process is the most energy efficient conceivable and so this leads to its principal techno-economic benefit: cheaper compressed air, but the air is also drier and cooler than incumbent stationary compressors as well as oil-free.

“For underground mines, there is a natural fit for this technology due to the approximate100 metre elevation difference required for installations delivering service air pressures.”

Supported by the Ultra Deep Mining Network, the HAC demonstrator at Dynamic Earth is thought to be the 19th large-scale installation to date and the only one to be built and to operate in the 21st century.

“The objectives of the HAC demonstrator project are to prove and communicate the techno-economic performance metrics of this modern-day version of an historically established technology, to benchmark these against a modern industrial stationary compressor located two kilometres from the site, and to significantly enhance the efficiency through temperature and co-solute manipulations of the circulating fluid. For the deep mines in Sudbury, cheap compressed air production leads to opportunities to deploy compact Air Cycle-based mine cooling systems.”

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