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Oleate-modified rock dust for wet applications in underground coal mines

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2015, Vol. 338, No. 1, pp. 448-456

Huang, Q.Q.; Honaker, R.Q.; Perry, K.A.; Lusk, B.T.


Rock dust is applied in underground coal mines to prevent the propagation of coal dust explosions. It is applied either dry or wet. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages, but the formation of caked rock dust particles is cited as a significant concern for wet applications. We conducted a study to evaluate the effect of modifying the rock dust particle surfaces to repel water and each other by the addition of oleic acid and sodium oleate. At a sodium oleate dosage of 1 kg/t, a contact angle of 112o was measured, indicating strong surface hydrophobicity and thus the ability to repel water. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) studies indicated a chemisorption mechanism, which is necessary for long-term stability of the surface modification. The dispersibility of the modified rock dust samples was elevated by the application of both oleic acid and sodium oleate, thereby indicating a significant reduction or elimination of the detrimental effect of caking. Tests in an explosion chamber showed an 82.8 percent reduction in the dust explosion potential relative to untreated rock test applied by the wet technique.