Mining Publication: Improving the Performance of Fan-Powered Dust Collectors in Stone-Cutting Applications
In the dimension stone industry, workers in processing shops may be exposed to harmful levels of respirable silica dust when conducting the different tasks in stone preparation, which include cutting, grinding, polishing, and thermaling. To protect workers from this health hazard, operators sometimes ventilate processing shops using fan-powered dust collectors to capture and filter dust. To investigate this issue NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, in cooperation with a dimension stone operation, upgraded an off-the-shelf dust collector the operator was utilizing in a polishing/cutting shop. Initial dust surveys showed that the unit was under-designed for the amount of dust being generated in the shop. The objective of the research was to cost-effectively increase the air cleaning volume and improve dust capture efficiency of the unit with a larger motor and blower. The original stock 0.56 kw motor and blower was replaced with a 2.24 kw motor and matching blower to increase airflow. The unit was evaluated both in the laboratory and the shop before and after the retrofit to determine the improvement of the upgrade. The study showed that the 2.24 kw upgrade improved the performance over the original 0.56 kw motor resulting in more dust being cleaned from the ambient air in the shop. The 2.24 kw unit cleaned 19% more air and captured 32% more respirable dust than the 0.56 kw unit.