VCD seal technology advances

VENTILATION control specialist Aquacrete and engineering consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff have developed an approach to testing underground ventilation control devices that could put an end to time delays and costs associated with sample coring and analysis of installed seals.
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The Aquacrete Thickness Gauge.

Lauren Barrett

The Aquacrete Thickness Gauge, launched at this year’s Australian Mine Ventilation Conference at the University of New South Wales, can analyse existing and new installations without the risk of damaging the material structure of the VCD.

The device employs in-situ testing technology, enabling underground mine operators to non-destructively verify thickness and overpressure rating compliance on the ventilation devices.

Parsons Brinckerhoff energy, mining and industry technical assistant Michael Salu said the gauge worked by using sound waves.

“It works by striking a surface with a hammer built in to the testing device and then measuring the elapsed time for the sound waves to reflect off the far surface,” Salu said.

“If there are any defects with the material, such as voids, the sound waves will not transmit through and the instrument will record the sound waves bouncing off an apparently thinner section.”

Salu said operators could take multiple readings across the surface of the installed VCD to be certain the seal had been installed to the required standard.

Aquacrete business development manager Greg Kay said there had already been a lot of support for the new technology and the device had been tested at trial underground sites and in active operations.

The gauge will form part of Aquacrete’s mine support program and will be used to assess installation requirements for mines and also monitor the integrity of installed seals and stoppings over time.

Salu said the new testing technology was the way forward for the industry.

“Having a reliable and accurate means of non-destructively testing seals in-situ provides substantial operational and safety benefits to the underground coal mining industry.”

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