Powder Technology, Vol.339, 487-496, 2018
Design and experimental evaluation of a flooded-bed dust scrubber integrated into a longwall shearer
Continuous mining machines operating in U.S. underground coal mines have, for decades, utilized flooded-bed dust scrubbers for capturing and removing respirable dust generated at the production face. However, the application of dust scrubbers to longwall mining systems has not yet been successful. Considering that nearly 60% of U.S. underground coal production is from longwall mines, the successful application of dust scrubbers to longwall mining systems could have a significant impact on miner health. A full-scale mock-up of a longwall shearer was constructed and equipped with a flooded-bed dust scrubber designed to capture dust produced by the headgate cutting drum. The mockup was installed at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Longwall Dust Gallery and a series of 40 experiments was conducted to evaluate the scrubber's performance. Results show that the scrubber achieved a 56% reduction of respirable dust in the return airway and a 74% reduction of respirable dust in the walkway area near the shearer. Although these tests were conducted under a controlled environment, the results suggest that a similar scrubber design could be very effective at achieving a significant reduction in respirable dust in longwall mining systems. (C) 2018 Published by Elsevier B.V.