Development of15 PSI Safe Haven Polycarbonate Walls for use in Underground Coal Mines.

  • Perry, Kyle (PI)
  • Lusk, Braden (CoI)

Grants and Contracts Details


The proposed project seeks to develop a 15 PSI safe haven wall system for use in underground coal mines utilizing poly carbonate windows and door systems. The proposed design will incorporate expertise and materials from a more developed blast mitigation industry in the civil construction industry. Transferring these systems to use in underground coal mines will require extensive research to develop technology for securing the systems to the surrounding strata in the absence of a traditional foundation. The technology could also be utilized in the future to design 120 PSI mine seals. This proposal addresses the ability to extract coal in a safer overall manner for all coal seams, not just thin-seams. However, thin seam coal mines typically do not have commercially available refuge chambers due to short entry height and the physical size of the refuge chambers. Therefore, safe haven walls are necessary to meet current MSHA requirements in thin-seam operations. In addition to refuge chamber limitations, many mine operators, regardless of seam thickness, prefer the use of refuge alternatives (safe haven walls) instead of the chambers. Whether it is the pure perception of the steel refuge chambers or the preference due to mine design and method, there is a clear need and market for safe and economically viable safe haven walls. This project will address the need of the thin-seam operations in Kentucky to extract coal safely. Construction of safe haven walls are either built by mine operators or by a third party hired by the mines. Typical turn-key costs associated with these walls are approximately $30,000 but fluctuate depending on the wall height. Currently, there is only one MSHA approved safe haven wall design but is still facing regulation issues due to various reasons and is slowly being adopted into Kentucky coal mines. The concept described in this proposal is estimated to cut the costs of safe haven walls which are currently being installed by about 25% but could be up to as much as 50%. With the addition of an approved design on the market which is more cost effective, the operators cost to produce coal will decrease resulting in a trickle-down effect eventually reaching the Kentucky citizens paying their electric bill. There is an obvious need for safety improvements in underground coal mines. The mines cannot continue to operate if safe procedures and methods cannot be employed. The proposed project has potential to increase the safety environment in the majority of underground coal mines in the state as well as introduce technologically advanced materials to them. Since one of Kentucky's greatest resources is its coal reserve, research dollars spent on safety improvements and integration ofadvanced materials into coal mines are dollars well spent. This proposal is seeking $249,689 to meet the goals and objectives described in later sections. Industry partners have committed $210,000 of in-kind contributions to the research effort. The project is very well supported by industry in the form of mining and window manufacturing companies (Alliance Resources, Black Mountain Resources, Consol, Manalapan, Winco Window Co., Sheffield Plastics). There is great interest in the mining industry to develop this idea and obtain approval from MSHA to install the proposed wall design. Quantitative analysis is required prior to seeking this approval. The funding provided through this program could allow for this analysis to be completed.
Effective start/end date7/1/1112/31/12


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