Posted by: Green Knight | September 13, 2012

New Coal Dust Instant-Read Meter

NIOSH has recently helped to develop a meter that can measure levels of explosive coal dust on the spot, instead of having to send samples off. This will enhance mine safety to a gigantic degree. They have a contest going where you can vote for a few innovations, and I think this one deserves 5 stars from all of you; that’s how many I gave it. I submitted a comment or two, asking if it can also measure other combustible dusts, like grain dust, titanium dioxide, or metal dust and shavings. I also wonder if it could detect sugar (remember the refinery in Georgia that blew up in 2008). What would be incredibly cool is if it could measure lead dust and asbestos fibers. Anyway, here’s their text; please review and vote for it. [N.B. i tend to say “explosivity” instead of “explosibility,” but the idea still gets across.]

The Coal Dust Explosibility Meter

Posted September 06, 2012

The Coal Dust Explosibility Meter (CDEM) employs technology that is different from current tools and methods and provides instant feedback to assess the relative hazard of explosible dust accumulations in underground coal mines and the efficiency of a mine’s rock dusting practices.  The CDEM provides mine operators with the information needed to take immediate action when potentially hazardous conditions are present.

The mining process creates coal dust which is explosive if not properly controlled. Since 2000, 64 fatalities and 18 injuries have resulted from numerous coal dust explosions. These catastrophic events can happen when methane ignitions lift and then ignite the coal dust present in the mines. The application of inert, pulverized rock dust to the mine roof, walls, and floor is one of the main means for maintaining an incombustible dust mixture necessary to prevent explosions.

The current method used to determine whether enough rock dust has been applied requires sending a collected sample to a laboratory and then waiting days or weeks until results are received. The NIOSH-developed Coal Dust Explosibility Meter (CDEM) provides coal mines with a tool to immediately determine if more rock dust should be applied to maintain safe levels.

The CDEM also considers dust particle sizes in its measurements. The finer the coal dust, the more explosible it is. The CDEM is a major improvement over the current method in that the current laboratory method cannot distinguish dust particle size and thus does not measure explosion potential. The CDEM evaluates particle size and indicates if more rock dust is needed to inert the finer-sized coal dust particles.

Due to the commercialization and help of NIOSH, to date, over 200 meters have been purchased by the coal mining industry.

If you think this innovation deserves the HHS Innovates award, rate it with the stars at the top of the page. To vote, select how many stars you want to give the innovation (between 1-5, with five being the highest rating), and then hit the “rate it” button.

http://www.hhs.gov/open/initiatives/hhsinnovates/cdc_coal_dust_meter.html

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