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Min Eng. 2018 Jan;70(1):42-48. doi: 10.19150/me.7978.

Open-air sprays for capturing and controlling airborne float coal dust on longwall faces.

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T.W. Beck, C.E. Seaman, members SME, M.R. Shahan and S.E. Mischler are general engineer, mechanical engineer, mechanical engineer and mining engineer, respectively, at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


Float dust deposits in coal mine return airways pose a risk in the event of a methane ignition. Controlling airborne dust prior to deposition in the return would make current rock dusting practices more effective and reduce the risk of coal-dust-fueled explosions. The goal of this U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study is to determine the potential of open-air water sprays to reduce concentrations of airborne float coal dust, smaller than 75 ┬Ám in diameter, in longwall face airstreams. This study evaluated unconfined water sprays in a featureless tunnel ventilated at a typical longwall face velocity of 3.6 m/s (700 fpm). Experiments were conducted for two nozzle orientations and two water pressures for hollow cone, full cone, flat fan, air atomizing and hydraulic atomizing spray nozzles. Gravimetric samples show that airborne float dust removal efficiencies averaged 19.6 percent for all sprays under all conditions. The results indicate that the preferred spray nozzle should be operated at high fluid pressures to produce smaller droplets and move more air. These findings agree with past respirable dust control research, providing guidance on spray selection and spray array design in ongoing efforts to control airborne float dust over the entire longwall ventilated opening.

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