A project to find a more energy-efficient and cost-effective way of transporting bulk materials is underway at the University of Newcastle in Australia.
Researchers there, working on the so-called 'Conveyor Belt' project, plan to design more energy-efficient conveyors by developing a new type of low rolling resistance conveyor belt.
"Belt conveyors use a considerable amount of energy to operate. They can be up to 10 kilometres long, and transport thousands of tonnes of minerals each hour,' explained Prof Mark Jones, Head of the School of Engineering, and one of five researchers involved in the project.
Much of this energy consumption is due to the indentation of the rubber belt as it travels over the supporting rollers.
'Our research focuses on changing the belt properties to reduce this indentation, improve the efficiency of conveying, and hence reduce the associated energy costs,' he added.
The project has received $530,000 in funding from the Australian Research Council. Over the next four years, the university researchers will work in cohorts with industrial partners Conveyor Dynamics, Veyance (formerly Goodyear) Belting and Laing O'Rourke Australia Construction to develop the new belt.