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Improving safety for miners by providing a wireless real time locating system.

Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, R43-OH-008952, 2008 Mar; :1-48
This document presents the results of a research and development effort funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) under SBIR Grant 1 R43 OH008952. The goal of the effort is to develop a tracking and location system to help localize miners in the event of a mine accident. Our work established several key principles: 1.Crtical polarization performs better than horizontal polarization in underground environments. 2. A power law roll-off of about r-5 is a reasonable estimate for mine propagation. 3.Phase response is distorted by mine infrastructure but in a gradual, slowly varying fashion that lends itself well to an RF mapping or fingerprinting approach to tracking. 4.Current NFER prototypes could be the basis of a tracking system with a range of about 150-200m (450-600ft). Reasonably foreseeable improvements could substantially extend the range to about 600-800m or 1800-2400 feet. With this kind of range, we can envision deploying a relatively limited number of receivers and obtaining accurate location information throughout mines of substantial size. Specific accomplishments of the Phase I effort included: 1.Completion of a computer (HFSS) model of propagation along a shaft. 2.Collection of propagation data at 575 kHz in a linear cave (Cave Mountain Cave, AL), an abandoned limestone mine (Three Caves, AL), and the Bruceton Safety Research Coal Mine. 3. Establishment of baseline performance metrics. 4.Initial modification Q-Track NFERŪ systems for proof-of-concept application in mines. 5. Demonstration and evaluation of the proof-of-concept system at the Safety Research Coal Mine near Pittsburgh. Furthermore, Q-Track identified a significant system improvement that should roughly double the robustness and performance of NFER tracking. This improvement is the subject of a provisional patent application filed February 25. The Q-Track Corporation has assessed the feasibility of applying Near-Field Electromagnetic Ranging to the difficult problem of location awareness within coal mines. The Q-Track team believes that our Phase I experience demonstrates the feasibility of NFER tracking in coal mines. We will soon be submitting a proposal for a Phase II effort to implement a prototype system for tracking in a mine environment.
Mine-workers; Miners; Accidents; Underground-miners; Underground-mining; Safety-measures; Safety-research; Mining-industry
Dr. Hans Schantz, The Q-Track Corporation, 515 Sparkman Drive, NW, Huntsville, AL 35816
Publication Date
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Final Grant Report
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NIOSH Division
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Q-Track Corporation, Huntsville, Alabama