Knowing the situation with dust compliance in the U.S., DSI began to research different wet and foam dust technologies. In 2011, the company partnered with a U.S. underground coal operator and began a development process. “After several months of work, we understood that we needed to have patents filed as far as protecting intellectual properties,” said Jim Pinkley, president and general manager, DSI Underground Systems. “We filed two patents, one for the batching composition and the second for the applicator equipment.” DSI now holds patents for the machines and the polymers in the U.S. and South Africa, and patents are pending in Australia.
The company then engaged the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The NIOSH protocol for evaluation involved underground testing at the Bruceton facilities and working with another underground coal operator in the U.S. DSI completed several underground tests at their site. All of the data was evaluated by MSHA tech support and NIOSH. The evaluation process was completed in July 2013.
Part of the protocol involved building a blast canister that could operate in complete coal dust explosions. Working with the University of Kentucky, DSI built a canister and completed a series of inerting tests with coal dust explosions. “To date, the DSI DYWIDust product, when dry, has never failed a coal dust inerting test,” Pinkley said, “At that point, we felt pretty good about the product as far as how well it would perform underground.”
This is an allowed version of MSHA wet dust product in 75.403, Pinkley explained. “We place a good amount of rock dust on the roof and ribs compared to MSHA’s wet dust,” Pinkley said. “It appears we have better rock dust application.”
“The allowance in 30 CFR is for an application of foam rock dust followed by a dry dust application,” said John McDonnell, technical director, DSI Underground Systems. “The foam dust, when any has tested similarly to dry dusting with inerting explosions and noncombustible material compliance. At the very least, we believe it should reduce the amount of dry dust.”
In July, 30CFR 75.403 was updated with the allowance for the application of foam rock dust. “For any mine using the MSHA wet dust now, this is a similar process that reduces the splash back and makes the coverage more efficient,” McDonnell said. “It reduces the time it takes to wet dust a section.”
The mine supplies the rock dust and adds the water and DSI polymer using the DSI dispensing machine, the DYWIDuster. “The mine uses their own C737 ASTM rock dust and we provide them with a set of batching instructions and a best practices sheet,” McDonnell said. “They add water and dust and then the polymer concentrate additive, and then they agitate it to develop the DYWIDust.”
Applying DYWIDust is a two-man job, one scoop operator and one miner manning the applicator wand. The miners load the DYWIDuster into the bucket of a scoop and the mixing process begins. They roll it up to the face and apply the DYWIDust. For a face application, where the mine is taking a 40-ft cut, depending on roof height, Rusty Linn, technical sales and strategic business manager, DSI Underground Systems, estimates that they will cover four or five cuts from each batch they mix, depending on seam height.
Miners can load the unit and mix a batch in 15 to 20 minutes. The DYWIDuster has two hydraulic lines with quick disconnects. It can be quickly offloaded into a crosscut and the