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Evaluating tailgate spray manifolds to reduce dust exposures for shearer face personnel

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2016, Vol. 340, No. 1, pp. 53-60

Rider, J.P.; Joy, G.J.



Technical advances in longwall mining over the last several years have resulted in much larger and faster shearers that have the capability of mining at speeds over 30 m/min (100 fpm). This has resulted in a substantial increase in the amount of dust that is generated at the shearer and during shield advances. Meanwhile, increased underground coal production has put a greater demand on longwall dust control systems as some operators have had difficulty maintaining consistent compliance with federal dust standards. To address this need, the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is investigating the effectiveness of a water spray manifold mounted on the tailgate end of the shearer body. The sprays are oriented parallel to the tailgate ranging arm, and these sprays create a water curtain confining the dust plume near the face, preventing the dust from drifting into the walkway. This redirection of dust provides a clean air envelope for the tailgate shearer operator and jacksetters working near the tailgate drum. Three different tailgate spray manifold designs were tested and evaluated at the Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (OMSHR) Pittsburgh Longwall Test Facility. Manifolds were equipped with hollow cone or flat fan water spray nozzles and evaluated at three face air velocities — 152, 213 and 274 m/min (500, 700 and 900 fpm)— and at water pressures of 689, 1,034 and 1,379 kPa (100, 150 and 200 psi). Reductions in dust concentrations were observed at six face sampling locations for all the tailgate manifold systems at each of the tested spray pressures and face velocities. Average reduction efficiencies of at least 90  percent were seen at the three sampling locations closest to the shearer for all three manifold systems at nozzle spray pressures greater than 689 kPa (100 psi). Based on results from the laboratory tests showing reductions in dust concentrations at sampling locations downwind of the shearer, a spray manifold was fabricated and evaluated at an underground operation.