Innovations in Radiators for Eastern Coal Mining Operations
Coal continues to be big business in the United States and the coal mining industry is still considered the backbone of small-town America – many times the only major employer in these communities.
Based in the legendary Iron Range of Minnesota, L&M Radiator helps keep the Eastern U.S. coal industry up and running — 24/7.
“I take pride in supplying Mesabi® cooling systems to help keep coal mining operations running efficiently,” said David Sullender, L&M Radiator, Southeast Sales Representative, who oversees Mesabi® sales east of the Mississippi River. “Big iron is in my blood. I have worked in this industry for nearly 20 years and really enjoy being able to provide cooling solutions that help my customers operate efficiently and meet their production goals.”
As one of the largest exporters of coal in the world, the United States has the largest recoverable coal reserves with an estimated 252 billion short tons of coal remaining.
Some of the largest coal deposits in the United States are in the Appalachian Basin in the Eastern United States and the Illinois Basin in the mid-central part of the U.S. Mostly mined underground, Eastern coal is denser as it has more coal in it. It is typically high wall or contour mined, freighted out of the mine with haul trucks and then sent to its destination by train or barge.
“In the Eastern U.S., a process called high-wall mining is often used in which the machines follow the contour of the mountain and enter the seam from the side of the mountain and then auger it out,” Sullender explained. “This process is more cost-effective than traditional mining.”
So Many Types of Coal for So Many Uses
With a myriad of uses, coal is primarily used as fuel to generate electric power in the United States. In coal-fired power plants, bituminous coal, subbituminous coal, or lignite is burned. The heat produced by the combustion of the coal is used to convert water into high-pressure steam, which drives a turbine to generate the electricity. “Today’s power plants have scrubbers that scrub coal as clean as natural gas,” Sullender noted.
Certain types of bituminous coal are used for making steel. Coal used for steel making needs to be high in carbon content and low in moisture, ash, sulfur and phosphorous content. Coal that meets these specifications is known as metallurgical coal.
“Anthracite coal is big in Alabama and Pennsylvania and is still used in the Northeast for heating homes,” Sullender explained. “In Appalachia, blend – also known as boutique — coal is seen more than anywhere else. It’s a coal that has lithium and other elements in it that can be burned off and is popular with computer component manufacturers worldwide.”
Coal is also used in cement production, carbon fibers and foams, medicines, tars, synthetic petroleum-based fuels, and commercial heating.
Custom-built Radiators Overcome Challenges of Mining Operations
Coal mining is a dirty business and Mesabi® radiators are engineered specifically to be used in those dirty environments.
“Mesabi® cooling systems are the most reliable radiators available today and essentially last forever if properly maintained,” explained Sullender. “You are going to have less leaking, less clogging and fewer issues. Those are immediate benefits customers experience day one of owning a Mesabi® radiator.”
Mesabi® cooling systems are exclusively designed with a simple, open path to the back of each radiator. This design allows for maximum airflow to the engine as ambient air is unrestricted and at a better angle to flow directly into the engine and for simple cleaning as air and water can travel through easily.
“With our exclusive V-Core radiator design, engine temperatures will run 10-15 degrees cooler with a Mesabi® radiator,” Sullender said. “This will increase the life of the engine as well — it’s another dividend you experience from investment in Mesabi ingenuity.”
L&M’s exclusive tube and seal design eliminates soldering and is built to absorb vibration and shock; it simply is not going to break from normal daily use. The only way to damage it is if it’s hit directly by a hard object, such as a rock. If and when that happens, customers can easily remove the damaged tubes, plug the holes with Mesabi® plugs or a common bolt, or they can replace the damaged tubes with new tubes in the field, preventing costly downtime.
“Once a customer buys a genuine Mesabi® radiator, they won’t buy anything else,” added Sullender. “One of my customers recently told me that he won’t turn a key without a Mesabi on it. I think that kind of says it all.”
L&M Knows the Needs of Eastern Coal Industry and More
According to Sullender, Mesabi S-Fin aluminum oil coolers and charge-air coolers are most often used in Eastern coal mining applications due to the dirty, harsh environment in which they operate. Of course, L&M Radiator customizes radiators and coolers for specific pieces of heavy-duty mining equipment to meet the specific needs of its customers. One thing for sure, Mesabi radiators and coolers will outlast just about every piece of equipment used in a coal mine.
Sullender talks of a mining equipment boneyard in West Virginia where old machines are kept for parts. “You won’t find any Mesabi radiators there though. Those are the first to be taken and re-used in other machines,” Sullender explained. “People who know Mesabi radiators, know their value and only use genuine Mesabi radiators.” There is no Mesabi like, there is only Genuine Mesabi Heat Exchangers.
A locomotive client recently contacted Sullender about a leak. By the time Sullender arrived onsite, four tubes that needed to be replaced already were. It ended up being a simple replacement of four out of 600 tubes – tubes that were on the job for more the 50-plus years. “I’d say that with that percentage of breakage over that many decades — our Mesabi system and tubes did really well,” added Sullender.
L&M Poised to Meet Customers’ Future Cooling Needs and Applications
With the age of autonomous electric dozers and haul trucks already here as many companies shift to renewables or natural gas operations, L&M sees the opportunity to be at the forefront of providing cooling solutions for those applications as well.
“Most notably, there will be the need to keep large charging station bays cool and operational,” said Sullender. “I see a mix of energy sourced applications as becoming the norm, as one solution does not fit all. It’s an exciting time to be part of that continuing evolution of options as L&M is poised to engineer the Mesabi-brand radiators that work for our customers for any — and all — of their future cooling needs and applications.”