Gas economy: CIL begins pilot project to convert diesel dumpers to LNG

In a significant move to reduce its carbon footprint, Coal India Limited (CIL), in association with GAIL (India) Limited and BEML Limited, has begun a pilot project to replace the use of diesel with LNG in dumpers
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New Delhi: In a significant move to reduce its carbon footprint, state-run Coal India Ltd (CIL) has started a pilot project under which it is converting its diesel-based dumpers to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). In an official statement released on Wednesday, the Ministry of Coal said that CIL has initiated the process of retrofitting LNG kits in its dumpers — the big trucks engaged in the transportation of coal in mines. "This is significant as the world's largest coal miner uses over 4 lakh kilolitres of diesel per annum with an annual expense of over Rs 3,500 crore," said the statement.

The company has taken up the pilot project in association with GAIL (India) Limited and BEML Limited and plans to retrofit LNG kits in its two 100-tonne dumpers operating at the subsidiary Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL). "CIL has signed an MoU with GAIL and BEML to get this pilot project executed. Once the LNG kit is successfully retrofitted and tested, these dumpers will be able to run on a dual fuel system, ie both on LNG and diesel and their operations will be significantly cheaper and cleaner with the use of LNG," the statement added.

'Conversion of CIL's diesel dumpers to LNG will be game-changer' 

"This will be a game-changer. The company has over 2,500 dumpers running in its opencast coal mines. The dumper fleet consumes about 65 percent to 75 percent of the total diesel consumed by the company. LNG will replace the use of diesel by about 30-40 percent and reduce the fuel cost by about 15 percent," the statement quoted a senior official of Coal India. "The move will reduce carbon emission significantly and also save around Rs 500 crore annually if all existing Heavy Earth Moving Machines (HEMMs), including dumpers are retrofitted with an LNG kit. Getting rid of diesel pilferages and adulteration are other added advantages," the CIL official added.

The main goal of the pilot project is to monitor the replacement rate of diesel with LNG in different load and operating conditions and also to capture the details of any change in characteristics of the dumper including cycle time and engine performance parameters, the official said.

Future of pilot project depends on trial run

The trial run of dumpers in a dual-fuel (LNG-diesel) system will be conducted for 90 days in different load and operating conditions. A techno-economic study will be done based on the data generated during the trial run to ascertain the feasibility of the system in CIL's mining conditions. Based on the outcome of the pilot project, CIL will decide whether to begin bulk use of LNG in its HEMMs, especially dumpers. The company has also planned to buy HEMMs with only LNG engines if this ongoing pilot project gets successful. This move will help CIL reduce its carbon footprint drastically and achieve sustainable goals.

Notably, major mining dumper manufacturers worldwide are now switching over to the manufacturing of dumpers having engines with dual fuel (LNG-Diesel) systems. CIL's effort is a big leap towards making green and cost-effective operations of its machines already running in coal mines, said the statement.

The pilot project is also significant because it is being undertaken in the backdrop of the government's plan to push the share of natural gas in the Indian economy from the current 6 percent to 15 percent by 2030. The Centre is keen on reducing India's dependence on crude oil imports and instead import LNG, which is considered a cleaner fuel. India imports around 80 percent of its crude oil requirements and around 50 percent of its natural gas requirements. 

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