A new attraction on display at Dynamic Earth in Sudbury is bringing a century-old invention to the modern age with the aim reducing the costs of deep mining. The Hydraulic Air Compressor (HAC) demonstrator was unveiled at the tourist attraction with much fanfare on June 21.
The 100-foot-tall industrial scale system for testing and demonstrating air compression was installed in its own headframe in a former elevator shaft that used to be a part of Big Nickel Mine. “This project is going to do so much more than develop a new air circulation system, it’s going to rewrite the textbook on thermodynamics,” said project lead Dean Millar in an interview.
“This will make deep mining here in Sudbury, and ultimately the rest of the world safer, more cost efficient and greener.” The HAC Demonstrator project is a joint undertaking of a Sudbury research consortium involving the Ultra-Deep Mining Network (UDMN), MIRARCO Mining Innovation, Laurentian University, Electrale Innovation, Reasbeck Construction, Independent Electricity System Operator, Northern Ontario Heritage Fund and Dynamic Earth.
Millar explained the technology is new but the concept is more than a century old.This project is based on the Ragged Chutes hydraulic air compressor plant designed by Canadian engineer Charles Havelock Taylor in 1910 for the Cobalt mining camp in northeastern Ontario.
The Ragged Chutes plant included a dam on the Montreal River and a 9.5-foot diameter shaft blasted to a depth of 107 metres. Intake pipes at the top of the shaft introduced air into the water as it plunged down the shaft. The force of the water compressed the air, which was then piped to a dozen mines to provide pneumatic power.
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