GAG jets ahead

QUEENSLAND Mines Rescue Service has made several improvements to its GAG inertisation unit over the past year, and now has plans to fully automate the jet engine.

Angie Tomlinson

Inertisation unit operations manager Clive Hanrahan told International Longwall News QMRS had commenced talks with American company Test Logic to automate the inertisation system.

The jet engine technology makes an underground mine atmosphere inert by eliminating oxygen through a release of carbon dioxide and water vapour into the mine.

The technology was first developed in Poland and was first used to fight a mine fire and create inert mine atmospheres in Australia in 1999.

Currently the engine is operated manually – with manual valves and gauges. QMRS is aiming to run the inertisation system through a computer linked to a modem. The modem will allow specialist aviation engineers in the US to dial in to monitor, adjust and check the system.

Automation will also mean that operators can be moved away from the engine to operate it remotely from a safe distance.

Hanrahan said QMRS was currently waiting on a quote from Test Logic before deciding whether to go ahead with the project.

QMRS also recently undertook an audit of mines’ docking stations to ensure water supply and site access.

The audit found that while some mines had water supply, many needed pressure and flow rates adjusted to suit the GAG.

Hanrahan also checked site access with the Volvo prime mover the unit is now housed in. He found a lot of modifications had to be made to the truck to ensure it met the access requirements of all Queensland mines.

Hanrahan said the new batch of longwall mines accessing off highwalls, including Broadmeadow, Carborough Downs, Aquila and Bundoora, had initially caused some concern as the GAG would have to be operated from within a pit.

However, he said these mines had now put down 1m diameter boreholes to workings which enabled the GAG team to operate the engine from the surface.

Hanrahan added that QMRS purchased a fuel tanker in March last year which gives the team 20 hours of running time while they get other tankers of fuel onsite.

QMRS has also made a number of ergonomic improvements to the unit’s trailer, with Mackay firm Bryan’s Fabrications fitting steps and ladders to the trailer and the GAG team fitting handrails.