A Canadian mine research organisation presented information about new technology which may provide zero-emission solutions for mine ventilation.
The Natural Heat Exchange Engineering Technology (NHEET), presented by the Mining Innovation Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation (MIRARCO), aims to provide air cooling and warming solutions at low prices and low emissions.
The project envisions using natural heat exchangers, often in the form of rocks, to manage mine temperatures. The NHEET system reuses waste rock to serve as a thermal energy storage system, with broken rock acting as the storage medium, and temperature cycles providing the source of energy.
A NHEET system of managing temperatures is needed as global temperatures soar, engineer Patrick Gareau said. This system will also reduce peak refrigeration and heating demand during extreme weather events, the frequency of which are expected to increase as climate emissions grow.
The project to develop NHEET is jointly managed by MIRARCO and Vale. Vale uses a NHEET system at its Creighton underground nickel, copper, and PGE mine, which allows the mine to operate without refrigeration to a depth of 2.5 kilometers.
An outdoor prototype heat exchanger has been built at the NORCAT innovation centre in Sudbury, Ontario.
Funding for this project is also provided by the government of Canada, Teck, Vale, and the Centre for Smart Mining at Cambrian College.