L&M Radiator Tames Dusty Challenges of Western Coal Mining

Others Can’t Compete with Tough-as-Nails Cooling System

Engineering ingenuity is hard at work in the Western U.S. in the coal mining industries of the Rocky Mountain region. And L&M Radiator, based in northern Minnesota’s legendary Iron Range area, is helping keep Western Coal mining operations on the job with Mesabi® cooling innovations.

“Everything is big out West and that includes coal mining,” said Steve Smith, L&M Radiator’s Rocky Mountain Sales Representative, who has been serving the coal and mining industry for more than 40 years. “The industry is experiencing changes due to green energy influences, but coal mining is still on the job. It’s a big – and dirty – business, but that’s exactly where our exclusive Mesabi radiators excel and outperform the competition.”

Minetruck MT2010 at the Kvarntorp mine.

Some of the largest coal deposits in the western United States are in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota. Surface and mined underground, Western coal is less dense than coal found in many parts of the Eastern U.S., as it produces less BTUs.

Coal, Coal and More Coal

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.

Certain types of bituminous coal also can be used in 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.

“The coal that comes out of Gillette or the Wyoming Basin is probably some of the lowest BTU coal there is,” Smith explained. “It is mainly for power plants and similar applications.”

Coal also is used in cement production, carbon fibers and foams, medicines, tars, synthetic petroleum-based fuels, and commercial heating.

Exclusive Radiator Design Overcomes Challenges of Western Coal Mining Operations

“Coal mining creates some real dusty challenges,” said Smith. “There are a lot of airborne dust particles and things flying around in open pit coal mining. Mesabi radiators by L&M Radiator allow a lot more debris to pass through the core. So, in turn you don’t have the clogging issues that you have in conventional style radiators. It’s really our niche – it’s where we add the most tangible value to our customers, saving them money with less downtime.”

For the Western coal market, a variety of Mesabi cooling systems are used by coal mining companies to meet the challenges of coal dust and the vibration that coal mining equipment must endure.

“We have a strong presence in open pit mines with blast hole drills,” Smith said. “L&M Radiator supplies Mesabi radiators for all types of haul trucks, loaders, dozers, road graders, hydraulic excavators and shovels for those types of mining operations.”

“Underground mining is a smaller environment with continuous miners and very stringent emissions,” Smith added. “They run diesel equipment, so ventilation is critical in those mines. Mesabi radiators are used on air compressors that are used to pump fresh air from the surface into the mines and to pipe out exhaust.”

Mesabi V-core design radiators 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. Mesabi radiators eliminate leaking and clogging issues.

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 a Mesabi radiator is if it is hit directly by a hard object, such as a rock. When and if that happens, customers can remove the damaged tube and easily plug the hole with genuine Mesabi plugs or a common bolt, or replace the damaged tube with a new tube in the field, preventing costly downtime.

“If the truck is coming in for an engine overhaul with a Mesabi radiator on it, all they have to do is pull it off, steam clean and pressure test it,” explained Smith. “If it is not leaking or has any other signs of issues, they’ll put it right back on – no radiator rebuilding needed. That saves coal mines a huge amount of time and cost.”

L&M has one customer with some haul trucks in the Gillette, Wyoming basin that exceeded 48,000-hours without any major engine work or radiator repairs.

“If properly maintained, those built – or born as I like to say — with Mesabi radiators will go at least two engines before it will be rebuilt,” Smith added.

Engineering Ingenuity Saves Time and Money

“Being able to repair our system right in the field also sets us apart from the competition,” Smith noted. “Mesabi radiators have been proven to best all competitors for their durability and ease of maintenance. All of these benefits save our customers maintenance costs and downtime.”

One of L&M’s customers, Coteau Properties out of Beulah, North Dakota, had an ongoing issue with brake cooler failures in their haul trucks.

“We were able to engineer and build a system protector cooler for those trucks to help them eliminate those catastrophic brake failures,” Smith explained. “They purchased more than 100 of those coolers and all have been in full operation since.”

Future Looks Green and Cooling Solutions for Those Applications Will Be Ready

“There is already a significant green energy solutions movement out West,” Smith noted. “Wind generation is big in the Wyoming area and power plant facilities are being analyzed to do nuclear. Solar is also a hot topic.”

“There are a lot of moving parts, and we all know the only thing in life that’s consistent is change,” added Smith. “Changes in the Western coal mining industry are inevitable, but L&M Radiator is ready to meet the challenges of the applications of tomorrow with our engineering ingenuity and custom-built, exclusive Mesabi-brand cooling system solutions.”

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