[VIDEO] Volvo Showcases Futuristic Excavator Concept
The mining industry is adapting to new concepts and Volvo is showcasing what the future of excavators may soon look like.
The automaker teamed up with Swedish industrial design house ‘Prospective Design’ to develop the excavator of the future. The two teams talked with equipment operators to learn what features and functions they would like to see on a machine --whether they were possible or not. What they came up with is one part space age and another part primordial.
Titled the SfinX Project, the futuristic excavator features an array of innovative components never seen before. The machine utilizes a small fuel cell that produces electric energy (emitting only heat and water vapor) and the boom is transparent aiding to safety by reducing the operator’s blind spot caused by solid metal booms. The SfinX adopts four tracks with each track having a separate wheel motor, which can brake, accelerate and allow the track to steer the excavator.
In addition the machine will include GPS based telematic capabilities along with ‘Geo-fencing’ to ensure the machine never leaves a predetermined area. The excavator will also utilize fly-by-wire technology enabling no physical links between the driver controls and the components they operate. Instead commands would be sent wirelessly to sensors on the components or via electric wires.
One of the most unique components to the SfinX Project is the cab. Built to improve all round visibility, the cab will have the capacity to tilt and move away from the machine or be left on the ground entirely. It would include a detachable cab that would come down to meet the operator. Also in the mix would be screens inside the cab to give the operator a view of the work environment.
Although the SfinX Project is merely a combination of futuristic ideas, it gives us a peek inside what mining equipment could eventually resemble. If the future of excavators entails anything like the SfinX Project, the mining industry is in good hands with Volvo.
Rio Tinto and Alcoa begin construction with ELYSIS tech
Eliminating all direct greenhouse gases from aluminium smelting has taken a major step forward with the start of construction on the first commercial-scale prototype cells of ELYSIS’ inert anode technology, at Rio Tinto’s Alma smelter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec.
ELYSIS has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of aluminium production
ELYSIS is a joint venture company led by Rio Tinto and Alcoa that is developing a new breakthrough technology, known as inert anode, that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional smelting process and instead produces oxygen.
The technology has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint.
The inert anode prototype cells will operate on a commercial scale typical for large modern aluminium smelters, using an electrical current of 450 kiloamperes (kA).
The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry joined representatives from ELYSIS, Rio Tinto and Alcoa to mark the start of construction and announce a further CAD $20mn financial contribution from the Government of Canada to support the project.
The federal government's financial support will enable the creation of a unique commercial size inert anode technology showroom for future customers and will help develop the supply chain by involving local and regional equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the project.
ELYSIS is working to complete the technology demonstration by 2024 followed by the commercialization activities.
ELYSIS technology at a glance:
- The ELYSIS technology addresses the global trend towards producing low carbon footprint products, from mobile phones to cars, planes and building materials.
- The new process will reduce operating costs ofaluminiumsmelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters.
- In Canada alone, the ELYSIS technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 7 million tons, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
- ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.
Alcoa and Rio Tinto will continue to support the ELYSIS development program alongside the Governments of Canada and Quebec.
ELYSIS is working closely with Alcoa's Technical Center, where the zero-carbon smelting technology was invented, and the Rio Tinto technology design team in France.
Alcoa's Technical Center supports ELYSIS in the manufacture of proprietary materials for the new anodes and cathodes that are essential to the ELYSIS process. The Rio Tinto technology team in France is creating commercial scale designs for the ELYSIS technology.
Vincent Christ, CEO, ELYSIS commented: “This is a great day for ELYSIS. It means that we are becoming the first technology company in the world to build commercial-size inert anode cells. While we refine the technology in our R&D Centre, we start the construction of our prototype cells. This shows our confidence in our process and in the know-how of our team. The combination of ELYSIS' zero CO2 technology and Quebec's renewable energy will be great competitive advantage for the future. I would like to thank the government for its support and all the partners for their commitment.”
Samir Cairae, Rio Tinto Aluminium managing director Atlantic Operations and ELYSIS board member added: “Today marks a real step towards the future of the aluminium industry, by progressing this breakthrough technology to cut carbon emissions. Rio Tinto is committed to supporting its ongoing development here in Quebec where we already use clean hydropower to deliver some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium. Combining this technology with renewable hydropower holds the promise of zero carbon aluminium smelting.”