Mining Publication: Breaking the Ice on the Booster Fan Dilemma in US Underground Coal Mines
Booster fans increase air pressure to overcome resistance, the objective being to force adequate amounts of air through distant workings. They are used in areas that are difficult or uneconomic to ventilate with main fans alone. Booster fans are currently permitted in underground coal mines in some countries; the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia and Canada have been defined as major users. Booster fans are not allowed in the US bituminous and lignite coal mining operations at the present time due to safety concerns. This paper presents the history of booster fan use in coal mines of the United States during the last 90 years. Changes in regulations, as well as advantages and disadvantages of booster fan use, are discussed. Research and petitions for booster fan use are highlighted in order to bring the debate into focus.