March 2017
Volume 69    Issue 3

Reduction in diesel particulate matter through advanced filtration and monitoring techniques

Mining Engineering , 2017, Vol. 69, No. 3, pp. 31-36
Pritchard, C.; Hill, J.; Volkwein, J.; Noll, J.; Miller, A.



Hecla Limited, Magee Scientific and the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) combined efforts to evaluate an in situ air filtration system for use in an underground mine environment. The purpose of the collaboration was to determine the efficacy of such a technology for reducing the concentration of airborne diesel particulate matter (DPM), with the aim of improving air quality in underground hardrock mines. A secondary goal was to evaluate the use of an aethalometer as a means of real-time measurement of black carbon as a surrogate for DPM. The evaluation included measuring the DPM-capture efficiency of the filter when it was preloaded with dust. Toward this end, rock dust was introduced at the filter inlet to create a dust layer on the filter surface, with the intent of providing improved capture of the much smaller DPM particles. The filtration efficiency for DPM was assessed by comparing measurements of DPM taken at the inlet and outlet of the system, using both real-time and time-weighted-average approaches. The real-time measurements were performed with a Model AE33 aethalometer, and filter samples analyzed by the NIOSH 5040 method were used to assess the effects of the system on time-weighted-average concentrations of total carbon. Results showed a reduction in DPM concentrations in the range of 82 to 89 percent. While the calculated efficiencies based on the two different measurement methods were similar, the DPM levels reported by the aethalometer were higher, possibly due to differences in the performance of the size selectors used for the two methods: impactors versus cyclones. More research is required to develop a robust correlation between the two methods to support the use of the aethalometer in future mining applications. The advantages of the aethalometer are that it can measure and record DPM levels for weeks at a time and can be directly connected to a mine monitoring system, potentially at multiple locations. Ideally, such data can be used to initiate the startup of the filtration system should DPM concentrations reach an action level. This work demonstrated that in situ filtration systems, modified to collect DPM and coupled with real-time monitoring, show promise in reducing DPM concentrations in the mine environment.

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