Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Technology Will Enhance Coal Mine Safety

17.07.2008
New technology invented by researchers at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will make it easier for coal miners to ensure their safety as they brace the roofs of mine shafts.

Working in coal mines can be backbreaking labor, not to mention dangerous. But a new technology invented by researchers at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will make it easier for miners to ensure their safety as they brace the roofs of mine shafts.

The new method involves simple, but specially designed stackable wood braces that are lighter and stronger than conventional wooden blocks used by miners for centuries. Yoginder Paul Chugh, professor of mining and mineral resources engineering in the SIUC College of Engineering, devised the materials, with the help of several others.

The technology, which several area mines are testing, represents a major improvement over bracing and cribbing methods used by miners for more than 200 years, even though it utilizes the same materials and builds on the same concepts involved. If all goes as planned, the new technology will mean more jobs for Southern Illinois, where some lumber yards already are experimenting with manufacturing the devices.

The new braces, called Atlas Cribs, are comprised of a mix of hardwoods and include a main lateral element made from a board with shorter boards nailed on both sides at both ends. The engineered braces hold many advantages over current methods for bracing roofs and seals.

First, Atlas Cribs are much lighter than the traditional 6-inch square blocks of wood miners use now, making it easier for the miners to handle and stack them. Also, the wood grain orientation in the braces make them stronger than the traditional methods. The new brace design also makes it easier to circulate air around the cribs, which could cut down on one of a mine’s biggest operating costs -- circulating fresh air.

“Air has to circulate in a mine to dilute the methane gases and provide fresh air (to breathe),” Chugh explained. “Moving air through a mine is the second largest energy consumer for a mine, next only to the transportation of coal out of the mine. That’s a pretty substantial amount of energy you’re spending on moving air.”

The new cribbing system takes up 41 percent less area than existing ones and may be up to 50 percent more efficient in terms of airflow, Chugh said.

The system’s strength comes from several design factors. First, the contact areas -- the area where the braces touch each other and the load is actually borne -- are equivalent to the traditional systems. This area is about 6 inches square.

Also, the shorter boards that are nailed to both sides of both ends of the lateral board are cut and positioned so that their grain runs vertically between the roof above and the floor of the mine. This axial grain orientation is much stronger than a parallel one.

“When you compress wood in a parallel direction it is very, very soft,” Chugh said. “So our central element has parallel grains, but the grain on the end pieces are axial to the load, and the strength of wood in this direction is about four times larger.”

For example, a traditional crib about 6 feet high will compress 12 to 14 inches under 70 tons of load. The same size crib made of Atlas Cribs will compress just 6 inches under more than twice the load -- 150 tons.

The lighter weight also means lighter work for the miners charged with building the cribs. Several former miners -- Bill Bell, Harrold Gurley and John Pulliam -- worked with Chugh on the design, with that perspective in mind. The new braces weigh 18 pounds, about half what a traditional cribbing timber weighs, meaning they can also work faster.

“Sometimes miners have to carry the timbers a couple of hundred feet before stacking them,” Chugh said. “So this will be easier on their backs.”

The braces are made from readily available hardwoods including oak, sycamore, poplar and hickory. They come in several sizes -- Atlas 100, 200 and 300 -- with various numbers of contact areas that allow for different cribbing configurations depending on the situation. A six-point configuration, for example, will carry 195 tons while a nine-point one would take about 300 tons of load.

Chugh began working on the concept about one year ago, after experimenting with a brace made from manufactured wood products, such as plywood. The economics of that concept did not work out, and driving back from a meeting in Harrisburg, Pa., the idea for an engineered natural hardwood brace took hold.

“I told the team to stop the car, I had an idea here,” Chugh recalled. A year later, several mines are either testing or plan to test the method this summer, he said, using it to brace mine seals, which are critical stability points. At the same time, several local sawmills also are putting in bids to manufacture the braces, which they could then sell under license to mines throughout the Midwest.

The market potential -- and potential to create more local jobs -- is huge, Chugh said.

“One local mining company uses 400,000 of these each year,” Chugh said. “The total demand within Illinois, Indiana and western Kentucky is about 1.5 million a year.”

The initial price the University will provide to the mines is about 3 cents cheaper per brace than the current method.

Tim Crosby | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.siu.edu

More articles from Architecture and Construction:

nachricht Construction Impact Guide
18.05.2018 | Hochschule RheinMain

nachricht New, forward-looking report outlines research path to sustainable cities
24.01.2018 | National Science Foundation

All articles from Architecture and Construction >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Designer cells: artificial enzyme can activate a gene switch

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

PR of MCC: Carbon removal from atmosphere unavoidable for 1.5 degree target

22.05.2018 | Earth Sciences

Achema 2018: New camera system monitors distillation and helps save energy

22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>