Fuel Cells Tested in Underground Mining Locomotive

October 14, 2002 by Jeff Shepard

R.A. Warren Equipment Ltd., an underground-locomotive manufacturer, took part in a $2.1 million international collaborative research project, headed by the US FuelCell Propulsion Institute (Denver, CO) and the Natural Resources Canada (NRC), to test fuel cells within a four-ton locomotive in an experimental mine in Val d'Or, Quebec.

The locomotive pulled five cars down a 600ft test track and is scheduled to begin further underground testing and evaluation in mid-September at the Placer Dome mine in Red Lake before being shipped off to the US, to a hydrogen testing facility for more safety testing. The locomotive is the first piece of underground equipment to be powered by fuel cells.

The power plant was built by Sandia National Laboratories (Albequerque, NM) and the fuel cell was manufactured by Nuvera Europe (Italy). The implications and timing coincide with the new compliance rules issued by the US Mine Safety and Health Administration to protect underground miners from diesel exhaust particulate matter, considered a serious health hazard caused by diesel-powered equipment.