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Instituting a filtration/pressurization system to reduce dust concentrations in a control room at a mineral processing plant

Mining Engineering , 2015, Vol. 67, No. 12, pp. 42-48

Noll, J.; Cecala, A.; Hummer, J.


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has observed that many control rooms and operator compartments in the U.S. mining industry do not have filtration systems capable of maintaining low dust concentrations in these areas. In this study at a mineral processing plant, to reduce respirable dust concentrations in a control room that had no cleaning system for intake air, a filtration and pressurization system originally designed for enclosed cabs was modified and installed. This system was composed of two filtering units: one to filter outside air and one to filter and recirculate the air inside the control room. Eighty-seven percent of submicrometer particles were reduced by the system under static conditions. This means that greater than 87 percent of respirable dust particles should be reduced as the particle-size distribution of respirable dust particles is greater than that of submicrometer particles, and filtration systems usually are more efficient in capturing the larger particles. A positive pressure near 0.02 inches of water gauge was produced, which is an important component of an effective system and minimizes the entry of particles, such as dust, into the room. The intake airflow was around 118 cfm, greater than the airflow suggested by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) for acceptable indoor air quality. After one year, the loading of the filter caused the airflow to decrease to 80 cfm, which still produces acceptable indoor air quality. Due to the loading of the filters, the reduction efficiency for submicrometer particles under static conditions increased to 94 percent from 87 percent.