Keeping the wheels turning
Prochem Agencies, a well-established Queensland-based company providing environmental and truck maintenance to the mining and resources industry, were looking for new ways to recycle old engine coolant and tackle truck corrosion.
Truck radiators can hold up to 1,500 litres of coolant each. These heavy-duty mining trucks are not only BIG but also expensive to run and susceptible to corrosion, and managing their environmental waste is also a challenge.
John Colvin, Prochem Agencies Managing Director, together with his team were already working on another project to improve vehicle cleaning and struck on the idea to repurpose the waste coolant to reduce corrosion damage and associated risks, as well as costs, while also delivering on improved environmental outcomes.
Turning waste into a win
CSIRO-based Innovation Connections Facilitator Mario Martini was able to connect them to research expertise at James Cook University (JCU), led by Prof. Peter Junk. Following this introduction, Prochem started a collaborative research project with JCU to determine the validity and sustainability of their idea. This research project was supported by the Innovation Connections service, delivered nationally by CSIRO and part of the Entrepreneurs' Programme, an Australian Government initiative which is funded and supported by the Australian Government.
Materials directly sourced from the mine were initially used for testing alongside suitable 'controls' to do formula performance experiments in the JCU lab. Based on their findings, a test product was formulated for trial. Prochem Agencies, in conjunction with one of their largest clients - a world-renowned mining company - were satisfied that preliminary research data could be trialled in a real mine setting, on real equipment.
Waste with benefits
Good for the environment and good for the bottom line are the compelling arguments that Prochem Agencies presented their client. Research data showed potential for substantial cost savings through the extended operating life of mobile mining equipment through reduced corrosion, while re-using what would otherwise be a waste product. By providing sound scientific outcomes from their Innovation Connections JCU project, Prochem were able to support their largest client as they looked for ways to remain competitive during the pandemic.