A world first, this system could play an integral role in enhancing the future safety of coal miners. 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 liters of water within 250 milliseconds in order to suppress the explosion, as was predicted by BMT WBM’s computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling,” said David Proud, business development manager for BMT WBM. “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 R&D project for several years with the financial support of the Australian coal industry research body, ACARP. BMT WBM has been modeling the physics and chemistry involved in the entrainment, devolatilization and combustion of the coal dust particles and the injection and vaporization 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 R&D committee has recently awarded the SkillPro/BMT WBM team an excellence award for the research and development undertaken on the Active Barrier project.

“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,” said David Humphreys, SkillPro’s Manager of the Active Barrier project. “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.”