BMT WBM, a subsidiary of BMT Group Ltd, and SkillPro Services Pty Ltd, announced that they have successfully suppressed a coal dust explosion using their Active Barrier prototype system in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s experimental tunnel in Kloppersbos, South Africa. A world first, this system could play an integral role in enhancing the future safety of coal miners, the companys said in a release.
Historically, coal dust explosions have been the number one cause of fatalities within underground coal mines and even today, despite the use of various passive countermeasures, these explosions cause many deaths worldwide.
“Using a sensor to detect the approaching coal dust deflagration, the Active Barrier system successfully injected 120 L of water within 250 milliseconds in order to suppress the explosion, as was predicted by BMT WBM’s computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling” David Proud, business development manager for BMT WBM’s Machinery group said of the experiment. “This is a ground-breaking 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 this research and development project for several years with the financial support of the 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 research and development committee has recently awarded the SkillPro/BMT WBM team an excellence award for the research and development undertaken on the Active Barrier project.
David Humphreys, SkillPro’s manager of the Active Barrier project said; “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. 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.”