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Examination of water spray airborne coal dust capture with three wetting agents

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2013, Vol. 334, No. 1, pp. 427-434

Organiscak, J.A.


Water spray applications are one of the principal means of controlling airborne respirable dust in coal mines. Since many coals are hydrophobic and not easily wetted by water, wetting agents can be added to the spray water in an effort to improve coal wetting and assist with dust capture. In order to study wetting agent effects on coal dust capture, laboratory experiments were conducted with three wetting agents used by the coal industry on -325 mesh sized Pocahontas No. 3 coal dust. Significant differences in coal dust sink times were observed among the three wetting agents at water mixture concentrations of 0.05%, 0.1% and 0.2%. The best wetting agent as identified by the coal dust sink test was only tested at the lowest 0.05% water mixture concentration and was found to have a negligible effect on spray airborne dust capture. Water spray airborne dust capture results for all three wetting agents tested at a 0.2% water mixture concentration showed that all three wetting agents exhibit similar but small improvements in dust capture efficiency as compared with water. These results indicate that the coal dust sink test may not be a good predictor for the capture of airborne dust. Additional research is needed to examine if the coal dust sink test is a better predictor of wetting agent dust suppression effects during cutting, loading, conveying and dumping of coal products by comparison to airborne dust capture from sprays.