Mining Publication: Factors Affecting the Performance of Trickle Dusters for Preventing Explosive Dust Accumulations in Return Airways
Original creation date: November 2019
Authors: M Sapko, M Harris, I Perera, I Zlochower, E Weiss
Correctly applied rock dust can dilute, inert, and mitigate the explosive potential of float coal dust. Trickle dusters are one element of a comprehensive system to help prevent coal dust explosions in underground coal mines. Trickle dusters supply rock dust to inert fine float coal dust in areas where it is commonly deposited, such as the longwall tailgate returns, return airways, pillaring areas, and downwind of belt transfers. Dust deposition studies show that the effectiveness of trickle dusters depends on several key factors. Using multiple orifices, rock dust should be released near the mine roof in the direction of the airflow in order to spread the cloud cross the entry. The rock duster should have a mechanism to break up rock dust agglomerates as they leave the rock duster. The particle size distribution of the limestone rock dust and its airborne concentration should be proportional to the airborne size distribution and concentration of coal dust passing by the trickle duster. Specifically, rock dusts having a greater proportion of <74 µm material are more effective at minimizing downwind zones of explosible mixtures than mostly larger particles. In our testing, rock dusts having more than 95% of <74 µm sized particles were adequately dispersed by trickle dusters. Based on our results, the mass rate of rock dust discharge from the trickle duster should exceed the rate of float coal production by at least a factor of four in order to minimize accumulations of explosible dusts.
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