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 Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice
17.01.2017 | EML European Media Laboratory GmbH

nachricht Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes
16.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>