Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) performed laboratory testing to examine and improve airborne dust capture and methane removal performance of flooded-bed scrubbers on continuous mining machines using a blowing face ventilation configuration to reduce respirable dust exposure to shuttle car operators. Several testing conditions were examined to minimize shuttle car operator dust exposure without adversely affecting continuous miner performance and production. Curtain-to-face setback distance of 9.1 m versus 15.2 m (30 ft versus 50 ft), face ventilation airflow of 226.5 m3/min versus 339.8 m3/min (8,000 ft3/min versus 12,000 ft3/min), and the use of side-body-mounted blocking sprays (on versus off) were the three primary parameters compared. Scrubber airflow was set and maintained at 198.2 m3/min (7,000 ft3/min) throughout testing. An examination of slab cuts versus box cuts and the location of the shuttle car (present behind the continuous miner versus not present in the entry) was also performed to demonstrate the effects of these constantly changing scenarios on scrubber performance. Results show that the best blowing face ventilation setup for minimizing shuttle car operator dust exposure for the tested parameters uses a 15.2-m (50-ft) curtain-to-face setback with 339.8 m3/min (12,000 ft3/min) face ventilation while operating the side-body-mounted blocking sprays.
Scott Klima is a mining engineer with NIOSH's Pittsburgh Mining Research Division in the Dust, Ventilation and Toxic Substances Branch. Scott graduated with a BS in mining engineering from Penn State University and has been with NIOSH for over five years. His research focuses on reducing respirable dust exposure of mine workers in underground coal mines. This includes developing methods to improve operating parameters and controls of continuous miner and longwall sections to reduce these exposures.
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