The system is a world first and could play an integral role in enhancing the future safety of coal miners.
Historically, coal dust explosions have been the number one cause of fatalities within underground coal mines and despite the use of various passive countermeasures, the explosions cause many deaths worldwide, BMT WBM says.
“Using a sensor to detect the approaching coal dust deflagration, the active barrier system successfully injected 120 litres of water within 250 milliseconds in order to suppress the explosion, as was predicted by BMT WBM’s computational fluid dynamics modelling,” BMT WBM machinery group business development manager David Proud said.
“This is a groundbreaking development – one which could help to mitigate the risks of coal dust explosions occurring in underground coal mines.”
BMT WBM and SkillPro have been involved in the R&D project for several years with the financial support of Australian coal industry research body ACARP.
BMT WBM has been modelling the physics and chemistry involved in the entrainment, devolatilisation and combustion of the coal dust particles and the injection and vaporisation of the suppressant.
CFD was also used to simulate a range of designs for the prototype suppression device, in order to arrive at a practical and reliable experimental unit.
SkillPro designed the final test apparatus and managed the test program.
The ACARP underground R&D committee recently awarded the SkillPro-BMT WBM team an excellence award for R&D undertaken on the active barrier project.
“A zero harm approach remains top priority for mining companies and SkillPro and BMT WBM are committed to helping their customers achieve this through the development of a range of innovative systems, such as the active barrier,” SkillPro active barrier project manager David Humphreys said.
“The success of this test program is another huge leap forward and we hope that we can continue our R&D work to further develop this pioneering product.”