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Mining Project: Mine Roof Simulator (MRS) Laboratory

Project DetailValue
Principal Investigators
  • David F. Gearhart, NIOSH, 412-386-6746
Start Date10/25/2007

The primary purpose of this project is to operate and maintain the MRS laboratory and utilize the MRS to test underground roof support and ventilation structures and apply these results to engineer safer products and applications.

Program Area
Keywordsengineering, ground control, mining

Research Summary

The primary purpose of this project is to operate and maintain the Mine Roof Simulator (MRS) laboratory which supports Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (OMSHR) projects, mainly in the Ground Control Branch. The facility includes the world-class MRS test machine which can exert 1,500-tons of vertical load over a 24-inch stroke and 800-tons of horizontal load over a 16-inch stroke. The upper and lower platens are 20-feet x 20-feet and the opening for the test article can be up to 16-feet tall. Tests are conducted to measure the response of standing and intrinsic roof support systems, mine ventilation stoppings and seals, and various other structural elements.

Ongoing tests in cooperation with standing support manufacturers are conducted to help in the development of new support technologies and to record the behavior of modified standing support systems. This data is added to the STOP in yearly updates, when applicable, and is also available to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Technical Support Roof Control Division, among others.

A lightweight rib support product to help prevent rolls of the rib has recently been introduced, a product that has been developed and improved by testing at the MRS. The capabilities of the MRS have also been used to develop a test method for ventilation stoppings to supplement the requirements of the Code of Federal Regulations. A more recent addition to the laboratory is the capability for testing the strength of roof screen materials.

An effort for testing mine seals against the new MSHA requirements became a major focus in the laboratory in FY2011 in support of a research project in the Disaster Prevention and Response Branch (DPRB). The purpose of the tests is to measure the capacity of several different seal materials in different simulated roof and floor conditions and to characterize the mode of failure of the structure or its components. The design of the fixture for these tests is built to withstand horizontal loads applied by the MRS of up to 450-tons. The results of this test program will be used to calibrate a model being developed in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This test program is expected to require about twelve months. Another series of tests utilizing the unique horizontal loading capabilities of the MRS is planned to investigate the behavior of the strain measurements from instrumented roof bolts subjected to shearing forces. This work will be conducted in support of a Ground Control Branch research project and is expected to extend for 8 months.

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