Mining Contract: Cryogenic Life Support Technology Development Project
Cryogenics offers the most efficient way to store and generate breathing gas, and if cryogenic technology can be improved it would offer an alternative to the high-pressure gas cylinders currently necessary for breathing air supplies used in refuge altenatives.
Contract Status & Impact
This contract is ongoing.
This contract was funded as part of an interagency agreement program, which provides a formal means for federal government agencies to share and further technology that could apply to and benefit mine safety and health. OMSHR identifies other government agencies with the knowledge, skills, and abilities relevant to a health and safety gap and works collaboratively with these agencies to identify the type of technology solution desired and to determine specifications for this technology.
Following a catastrophic event, mine workers and rescue teams may be exposed to harmful gases in the mine atmosphere. Breathing air supplies (BAS) technologies are used to isolate the lungs from this atmosphere or provide refuge alternatives where the atmosphere is controlled. Breathing air supplies for underground mining refer to a range of devices and systems that offer respiratory protection to miners in the event of an emergency. Some examples of BAS are self-contained self-rescuers (SCSRs), closed-circuit oxygen breathing apparatus (CCBAs), and gas supplies for refuge alternatives. Advanced BAS technology could improve a mine worker’s chances of surviving a mine disaster.
Research under this contract will explore cryogenic breathing air and oxygen technology used by NASA for application to mining breathing air supplies suitable for use in refuge alternatives. Specific objectives are to conduct a feasibility study for cryogenic air and oxygen application, to fabricate, test, and document operational prototype supply systems, and to adapt and evaluate systems for retrofit into, or for use in conjunction with, existing refuge chambers. Final demonstration of the system may occur in an operating underground coal mine or in NIOSH’s Safety Research Coal Mine.