Insights from industry

Enhancing Automotive Performance with Improved Insulation

In this interview, Sidney Tannenbaum, Marketing Manager of Firwin discusses how improved insulation can enhance automotive performance.

Why are diesel powered vehicles crucial in mining?

Mining vehicles tend to be quite large and heavy, and are also used to carry heavy loads. For these reasons, mining vehicles need higher torque (load carrying) capacity. Diesel engines, because of their design, have a higher load carrying capacity than gasoline powered vehicles. As well, the cost of diesel fuel for a given mining vehicle is generally lower than that of gas. Although diesel vehicles tend to be high on maintenance, they generally have a longer longevity than gas-powered vehicles. These reasons combine to make the diesel powered vehicles the vehicle of choice in the mining industry.

Removable insulation blankets on back-up power system.

Removable insulation blankets on back-up power system.

What are the main issues associated with the use of diesel powered vehicles?

The issue is not so much the fact that the vehicles are diesel powered (as opposed to gas); in fact, while both diesel and gas engines run hot, the exhaust temperature of a gas engine is typically higher than that of a comparable diesel engine (the temperature of the diesel engine’s combustion chamber would be hotter than that of gas).

Nonetheless, high temperature engine and exhaust parts can pose a hazard to personnel, and increase the ambient heat around the vehicle, making it difficult, or at least uncomfortable for personnel to work (this is especially true for underground mines).

Why are these issues becoming more prevalent?

With stricter regulations on vehicle emissions, diesel vehicles are now outfitted with ‘diesel particulate filters’ (DPFs). For these to function optimally, higher exhaust temperatures are needed. This is often accomplished by a process known as ‘Regeneration’ - Regeneration is the process of removing the accumulated soot from the filter. This is done either passively (from the engine's exhaust heat in normal operation or by adding a catalyst to the filter) or actively introducing very high heat into the exhaust system. Diesel particulate matter burns when temperatures above 600 degrees Celsius are attained. This temperature can be reduced to somewhere in the range of 350 to 450 degrees Celsius by use of a fuel borne catalyst. In either case, we are dealing with higher exhaust temperatures.

Firwin MineWrap™ removable blankets and Hard Coat™ permanent insulation on mining truck exhaust.

Firwin MineWrap™ removable blankets and Hard Coat™ permanent insulation on mining truck exhaust.

What are the options for overcoming these issues or limiting their impact?

Insulating the engine and exhaust components both helps to maintain exhaust temperatures necessary for optimal catalyst performance, while lowering the surface temperature so that personnel are protected, lowering ambient heat. This can be done with either removable insulation blankets, or with a permanent insulation solution, such as the Hard Coat™ product, which has become quite popular in the underground mining industry.

How do the insulation blankets achieve this?

Insulation blankets that are custom made to precisely fit the specific engine components of the vehicles being used by a particular mine can cover high temperature exhaust parts completely, allowing for maximum protection and heat retention.

Hard Coat ™ permanent insulation on mining truck manifold and turbo.

Hard Coat ™ permanent insulation on mining truck manifold and turbo.

How do Firwin insulation blankets stand out?

One area that Firwin stands out is simply in the wide range of insulation blanket sets that we have already done for mining vehicles around the world. What this means is that we are intimately familiar with the needs on the mining industry when it comes to vehicle insulation; as well, our large internal library of blanket patterns for mining vehicles means that a mine that is looking to outfit its fleet with insulation blankets can often avoid having to take measurements of the various components to be covered, and be confident that the blanket set will fit correctly.

That being said, there is a lot a variation in the mining industry from mine to mine, even for the same vehicle make and model, especially to the exhaust; so sometimes measurements are inevitable.

The other area that Firwin insulation blankets stand out is our MineWrap™ series of insulation blankets, that are specifically designed for the challenges of the underground mining industry.

MineWrap™ Mark II stainless steel foil inner liner

MineWrap™ Mark II stainless steel foil inner liner

How does Minewrap™ work?

The unique feature of Minewrap™ is the stainless steel inner liner. The reason this is so important is as follows:

Mining vehicles can sometimes experience an oil leak. This can be an engine oil leak, or a hydraulic oil leak from a burst vehicle hydraulic line. In either case, there is a danger that the oil can reach the engine or exhaust, and get under the insulation blanket and begin to seep into the insulation material. This combustible mixture can ignite, causing a danger to underground miners.

Firwin’s MineWrap™ insulation blanket features a stainless steel liner covered by a stainless steel mesh. This reinforced inner liner is impervious to liquids, and isolates the insulation material from any oil.

There is also a higher end version of our MineWrap™ blanket, known as the Mark III, which adds a reinforced outer cover to increase the strength of the blanket and make it more resistant to punctures.

Firwin MineWrap™ Mark III removable blankets on mining truck catalyst and exhaust.

Firwin MineWrap™ Mark III removable blankets on mining truck catalyst and exhaust.

Where can our readers go to find out more about this?

Interested parties can visit our site here for more information.

About Sidney Tannenbaum

Sidney Tannenbaum

Sid’s duties at Firwin range from the traditional marketing activities such as creating marketing materials (brochures, information sheets, etc.), advertising, and press releases to writing Firwin’s quarterly newsletter and managing Firwin’s website. Sid also lends a hand to the sales department when necessary and assists with quoting. Sid joined Firwin Corp in 2006, and has an MBA from York University. Most of his out of the office time is spent enjoying his young family.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.

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