Pedal power

ANGLO Coal’s Southern Colliery may have come up with a solution to the problem of how to get a reliable supply of fresh air to mineworkers in a refuge bar for an extended period – through an innovation dubbed the pedal fan.
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A trial installation of the pedal fan at Southern Colliery

Angie Tomlinson

The concept was entered into the Queensland Mining Industry Occupational Health & Safety Innovation Awards announced earlier this year.

The pedal fan works on a relatively simple concept; whilst the main fan is running, air is drawn into the refuge bay under normal ventilating pressure (approximately 1000pa at Southern), providing a direct segregated intake. If the main fan stops, pedaling the fan will provide sufficient air for approximately 70 men.

The pedal fan is connected directly to the surface via a 10in borehole and has completely segregated fresh air intake.

There is no limitation of the duration and the fan does not require complex maintenance procedures or schedules.

The fan was made from an off-the-shelf fan supplied by a local distributor.

Southern said the pedal fan overcame shortcomings of other methods - breathing apparatus have limited duration, pipes on compressed air can get damaged and stored cylinders have limited duration.

“The pedal fan is a simple solution for a problem that we hope that we never have. Although, if we need it, the blokes that use it will be glad we had it, and so will we,” Southern Colliery said.