Mining Contract: Development of Dust Control Units for Underground Coal Mines
This contract will design, construct, and test two new dust collection components for continuous mining operations in underground coal mines: a mine air scrubber and a remote roof bolting machine cutting collector. These units will remove both float and respirable dust accumulations, reduce noise, and lower the risk of coal dust explosions.
Contract Status & Impact
This contract is ongoing.
The overall objective of this contract is to reduce mine worker exposure to respirable coal and silica dust that can lead to the development of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP) and silicosis. To that end, two innovative concepts, described below, for collecting and containing rock and coal dust at the working face will be developed and tested.
Mine Air Scrubber
This unit will be designed to be a standalone mobile scrubber that will pass air through a filter to collect the dust, resulting in clean air being emitted from the fan. The system will consider mine height and entry width, air flow velocities and volumes, noise levels and ergonomic considerations, durability of construction, and necessary tram speeds. Once the preliminary design is reviewed, the mine air scrubber will be constructed. The scrubber will be subjected to a series of tests, initially in the laboratory, then in an operating coal mine. The tests will determine the efficiency of the unit and ultimately this phase will decide the design characteristics of the scrubber including filter type, filter life, air volumes, and air velocities. The final testing phase, to be conducted in an operating underground coal mine, will be developed in consultation with NIOSH to determine the type and number of tests. This unit has the potential to reduce respirable dust (a health hazard) concentrations to the area of the roof bolting machine, which operates downstream of the continuous miner. It also has the potential of reducing float dust (an explosion hazard) concentrations in the return.
Remote Roof Bolting Machine Cutting Collector
This unit will be designed to operate in an underground coal mine in conjunction with a roof bolting machine. The concept of this design is to allow for a dust collection system to be located some distance away from the roof bolting machine and to collect the drill cuttings for a much longer period of time than is currently possible with roof bolters. This remote collection of the cuttings will reduce the noise levels currently experienced by roof bolt operators, will eliminate the need for frequent removal of the drill cuttings from the bolter, and will allow for the cuttings to be carried and disposed of in a remote area of the mine.