Development of a flooded-bed scrubber for removing coal dust at a longwall mining section

Sampurna Arya, Joseph Sottile, Thomas Novak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Dust generation resulting from various mining activities, such as excavation, loading, and transportation, is a major health and safety issue in underground longwall mines. This issue has been intensified by the increased production rates associated with modern equipment, technologies, and mining methods. In response to a report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), showing an increasing trend in Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis (CWP), the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) established new dust regulations mandating lower dust concentrations and more frequent dust sampling. This research focuses on the viability of enhancing dust control techniques by integrating a flooded-bed dust scrubber into a longwall shearer. To accomplish this objective, a full-scale physical model of a Joy 7LS longwall shearer, modified to accommodate the scrubber, was designed and fabricated at the University of Kentucky. Subsequently, this mock-up was transported to the longwall test gallery at the NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory (PRL) for testing. The paper provides a brief description of longwall mining, the operation of a flooded-bed scrubber, and a comprehensive overview of previous attempts at applying scrubbers to longwall shearers. Next, it describes the conceptual design and working principles of the flooded-bed dust scrubber as integrated into the shearer mock-up. The paper concludes with results of shakedown tests, indicating dust reduction from 46% to 53% in the return airways of the test gallery. These promising results demonstrate the potential health and safety benefits of the proposed concept and justify further investigation into its testing, refinement, and application.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-213
Number of pages10
JournalSafety Science
StatePublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Recently, the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) developed a scrubber for a longwall shearer under research funded by the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) ( Ren et al., 2009 ). The scrubber was designed and manufactured by EnvironCon in consultation with CSIRO. Initially, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling was performed and the CFD findings, such as scrubber inlet location, scrubber capacity, and airflow discharge direction were incorporated into the design. CFD results showed that a minimum 8.0 m 3 /s (16.9 kcfm) scrubber capacity was required for a maximum 80.0 m 3 /s (169.5 kcfm) face quantity.

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful for the generous support from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for the laboratory testing. Funding for this research was provided by the Alpha Foundation for the Improvement of Mine Safety and Health, Inc. (grant number AFC113-10 ). The authors also wish to thank personnel from Joy Global, Inc. (now Komatsu America Corp.) and the Tunnel Ridge Longwall Mine (Alliance Coal, LLC) for their assistance.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Dust control
  • Dust scrubber
  • Flooded-bed scrubber
  • Longwall shearer
  • Respirable dust exposure
  • Underground coal mining

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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