Can you give an introduction to Howden and the company’s presence in Africa?
EV: Howden was established in South Africa in the early 1950’s and has been operating across the African continent for many years. In Africa, the company has predominantly been present in Southern Africa. Our business in South Africa has mainly been focused on air and gas handling within the power, mining, oil & gas and industrial and environmental sectors. Howden is a major supplier of underground mine ventilation equipment and has an extensive installed base across all the deep hard-rock mines within Southern Africa. We have recently established a subsidiary to operate in Zambia and are looking to expand our presence to East Africa and West Africa over the next few years.
KN: Our services include air and gas handing application engineering and consulting, equipment design, manufacture, installation and commissioning, service contracts, outage management, remote assistance, spare parts, and maintenance and repairs. Our product range includes fans, heaters, compressors, blowers, and steam turbines for various applications. We design, build, install, commission, and maintain engineered solutions that offer the user exceptional performance and dependability, even in the harshest operating conditions.
Can you elaborate on Howden’s Ventsim software and VortexOHS and how these enhance safety?
KN: The Ventsim Control software is used to design, optimize and model underground ventilation systems. It ensures that ventilation equipment is strategically located to guarantee maximum productivity and decrease operating costs. The software allows the user to remotely monitor, control and automate real-time airflow and ventilation in the mine, tracking where ventilation is required and controlling it from the surface.
The VortexOHS system manages the cleanliness of the environment. It enhances safety by collecting, managing and reporting the data from the surrounding environment concerning fumes, for example. It is designed to make ventilation and hygiene professionals’ work easier and faster.
Howden also has a digital platform, Uptime, which seamlessly integrates data and combines active inputs, such as temperature, pressure and vibration with reference parameters from manuals, specifications, and maintenance reports. It provides a unique foundation for maintaining and enhancing operational excellence. It allows for failure prediction and early intervention to minimize the possibility of downtime.
What potential do you see for hydrogen in the mining industry?
EV: Hydrogen can play a significant role in mining’s future across the energy and production value chain, and when produced from green energy sources the resultant green hydrogen offers a carbon-free energy source. Global developments in Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) provide mines with a viable option of FCEV mobility solutions, most notably for heavy duty and longer-range transport requirements. Howden has a long history of offering the compression solutions required to make hydrogen a viable fuel source and has developed a range of products to facilitate the refueling of FCEVs. Our oil-free compressors offer contamination free solutions for hydrogen compression. Howden has been involved in a number of Hydrogen firsts, having supplied the compression solution for the world’s first E-Fuels project situated in Chile, the world’s first carbon-free steel project in Sweden, the world’s largest hydrogen refueling station located in China, and having supplied the world’s largest reciprocating compressor. We constantly develop our compression product range and continue to push the boundary of the pressure and volume performance of our machines allowing our customers to achieve the economy of scale benefits they seek to improve the economic returns on their green and blue hydrogen projects.
Howden has the knowledge and expertise to optimize hydrogen compression across the value chain from production to storage, distribution, and end-use, such as refueling stations, hydrogen pipelines, green fuels, green steel, power-to-X applications and for heavy industrial purposes. The cost of producing green hydrogen is reducing rapidly and will in the next few years be at the point of inflexion where it is competitive relative to other fuel sources, particularly when the cost of carbon is included in the equation. Green Hydrogen is expected to play an essential role in decarbonizing global energy and transport systems and will make a notable contribution to climate protection. We have seen over 100% compound growth in our hydrogen business over the last three years.