ABB Australia have announced that they will provide a medium voltage drive system, valued at $12 million, for an overland coal conveyor at a new export terminal being built by Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG). The new terminal will enable an increase in coal exports from the Newcastle region of New South Wales, Australia and will be constructed at Newcastle Port, Kooragang Island. The project represents the largest single stage development of a new coal terminal of this magnitude in the world.
ABB Australia’s efficient drive solution with 16.5MW of installed power consists of sixteen variable speed drives with integrated transformers and sixteen 3.3kV high voltage process performance motors. The conveyor drive system is a packaged solution, with the variable speed drives to be housed within six air-conditioned and dust resistant transportable rooms.
According to Adrian Heaton, Regional Sales Manager, ABB Australia, they believe the keys to managing operations productively are energy efficiency, equipment availability and reliability. Naturally, this was a focus for them when they put the solution forward to NCIG. ABB Australia’s drive system has many advantages, such as one of the lowest parts count in medium voltage drives offered by potential vendors.
The drives use an advanced and proven power semiconductor switching device known as Integrated Gate Commutated Thyristor (IGCT) which results in a lower parts count. This provides a statistically lower risk of failure to some other medium voltage drive semi-conductor devices. ABB Australia’s product reliability was verified by the many existing users of these drives in Australia.
ABB Australia’s high efficiency motor was another important consideration, as every efficiency benefit achieved on 16.5MW of power can provide reduction in the environmental footprint. The flexible orientation of the top mounted terminal box for the motors increased the ease of installation and reduced the need to carry multiple motors as spares. ABB’s motor also offered the lowest operational noise rating which assists in meeting demanding Environmental Protection Authority operational noise level standards.
ABB’s packaged solution reduces clients risks in terms of equipment compatibility and improves conveyor system availability. All design aspects, such as the elimination of harmonics and voltage reflections, that can damage motors and networks are taken into consideration. The engineers also optimised the design wherever possible reducing the total number of components required as with the integrated transformers for the drives.
ACS 1000i variable speed drives are equipped with integrated input transformer, which reduces costs and simplifies installation. Some of the installation savings include: no cabling between transformer and drive; no separate space indoor/outdoor (oil pit, cable ways) for the transformer. ABB Australia’s interlocking doors, input isolator, DC bus grounding switch and output motor cable ground switch also offer substantial operational safety benefits. Not to mention that we were able to integrate all of this into a compact 3.3 meter footprint.
NCIG saw considerable advantages in utilising the master-follower standard onboard software. This software function of the drive enables accurate torque sharing between conveyor drums at the head of each conveyor without the need for encoder feedback.
Another important verification of the sustainability credentials is that ABB Australia use bio-degradable oil within the main capacitors. This also ensures a long life, as opposed to electrolytic capacitors, known for their short life. Incorporating all these technologies provides for an intrinsically less complex, more efficient and reliable drive solution which is critical for these conveyors as they transport the coal from the unloading facilities to the stockpiles, from where the coal will be reclaimed for loading to ships.
With demurrage costs having increased recently, as ships queued up at ports waiting to be filled with bulk commodities, keeping equipment running 24/7 is critical to the bottom line. ABB Australia with their extensive support network and dedicated service technicians in each state can offer service level agreements with guaranteed support times. This is important for infrastructure projects that address capacity issues associated with coal handling for regional coal exporters.
This new coal conveyor application will also be notable as the new NCIG terminal is required to meet the export requirements of new coal projects over the next five to ten years. The terminal will become the third in the Port of Newcastle and will feature rail, stockyard and shipping facilities. It will have a capacity of 30 mega-tonnes per annum of coal throughput and is planned to start operations in 2010.
Partners in the project are BHP Billiton (through Hunter Valley Energy Coal) Centennial Coal, Donaldson Coal, Peabody Energy (through Excel Coal), Felix Resources and Whitehaven Coal.