System could protect miners from coal-dust explosions

BMT WBM has announced the development of an experimental prototype system that could help mitigate the risks of coal dust explosions in underground coal mines.

In partnership with Queensland-based SkillPro, the Active Barrier is designed to detect an incipient explosion and discharge nearly a quarter of a tonne of water within milliseconds. 

According to BMT WBM, a milestone in the development programme has been constructing the prototype system for trialling in an explosion test gallery in Pretoria, South Africa, later this year.

Constructed in Australia, the system is said to have recently performed the first in a series of trial discharges prior to shipping for testing, where 240 litres of water was dispatched in half a second through 180 spray nozzles.

Greg Collecutt, manager of advanced simulation at BMT WBM, said: ‘Some of the worst mining accidents in history have been caused by coal-dust explosions and claimed the lives of thousands of miners. A zero-harm approach remains top priority for mining organisations.’

After the current series of operational tests are complete, the prototype will be shipped for testing in the explosion gallery, where it is hoped that it will extinguish a real coal-dust explosion travelling at speeds of more than 700km/h.

BMT WBM, a subsidiary of Teddington-based BMT, has been involved in the project for more than five years, developing computational fluid and structural-analysis models of the barrier.