National Academies Press: OpenBook

Coal Mining (1978)

Chapter: APPENDIX B: THE U.S. BUREAU OF MINES RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM

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Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX B: THE U.S. BUREAU OF MINES RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM." National Research Council. 1978. Coal Mining. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18766.
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Page 73
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX B: THE U.S. BUREAU OF MINES RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM." National Research Council. 1978. Coal Mining. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18766.
×
Page 74
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX B: THE U.S. BUREAU OF MINES RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM." National Research Council. 1978. Coal Mining. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18766.
×
Page 75
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX B: THE U.S. BUREAU OF MINES RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM." National Research Council. 1978. Coal Mining. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18766.
×
Page 76
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX B: THE U.S. BUREAU OF MINES RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM." National Research Council. 1978. Coal Mining. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18766.
×
Page 77
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX B: THE U.S. BUREAU OF MINES RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM." National Research Council. 1978. Coal Mining. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18766.
×
Page 78
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX B: THE U.S. BUREAU OF MINES RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM." National Research Council. 1978. Coal Mining. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18766.
×
Page 79
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX B: THE U.S. BUREAU OF MINES RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM." National Research Council. 1978. Coal Mining. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18766.
×
Page 80
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX B: THE U.S. BUREAU OF MINES RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM." National Research Council. 1978. Coal Mining. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18766.
×
Page 81
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX B: THE U.S. BUREAU OF MINES RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM." National Research Council. 1978. Coal Mining. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18766.
×
Page 82

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APPENDIX E The U.S. Bureau of Mines Research, Development, and Demonstration Program 73

1. INTRODUCTION The U.S. Bureau of Mines research, developirent, and demonstratin (RD&D) program is directed toward the conservation of mineral and fuel resources, the protection of the miner from health and safety hazards, and the control of social and economic costs to help ensure a viable mining industry in the United States. Since the passage of the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, funding for the Bureau has increased markedly. The funding for Fiscal Year 1977 and estimates for Fiscal Year 1978 are shown in Table B-1. Coal research is receiving particular emphasis, reflecting the need for iirproved mining technology to permit rapid development of the nation's coal resources. Coal RD&D is being implemented through five in-house research projects in Denver, Colorado; Carbondale, Illinois; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Spokane, Washington. An environmenal field office is located in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and additional work is carried out by contract with outside organizations. Its overall objective is the development of the technology required to increase both the productivity and production potential of the mining systems. The coal RD&D effort is divided into four areas: underground mining, surface mining, preparation, and supporting studies. Underground mining includes research on improved room-and-piliar mining and on panel mining with longwall and shortwall methods, increased rates of development for new mines or expansion of existing mines, control of environmental impacts from mining and mine wastes, and advanced mining systems. Surface mining research includes work on improved extraction and reclamation equipment and integrated mining and reclamation systems. Coal preparation research seeks to reduce the air- polluting materials in coal. Supporting studies are undertaken to determine where improvements in the mining system are needed and what results may be expected from the various alternatives. 2. UNDERGROUND COAL MINING RESEARCH Coal mine development involves mechanization of the construction of shafts and slopes to reduce the time and cost required to gain access to the coal; development of 74

TABLE B-l U.S. Bureau of Mines Funding (in millions of dollars) FY 77 FY 78 Program Funding (estimate) Health and Safety Coal-Health 4.19 4.60 Coal-Safety 25.99 25.40 Metal-Nonmetal Health and Safety 5.82 5.82 Subtotal 36.00 35.82 Advancing Mining Technology Coal Underground 45.70 43.90 Surface 11.00 10.10 Coal Preparation 2.10 5.00 Supporting Studies 1.10 1.00 Subtotal 59.96 60.02 Oil Shale 5.66 3.22 Metal-Nonmetal 6.27 6.27 Subtotal 71.89 69.51 Environmental Engineering and Demonstrations Mined Land Investigations and Demonstrations 9.86 3.89 Fire Control in Coal Deposits 0.25 0.25 Subtotal 10.11 4.14 Totals 118.00 109.57 75

equipment capable of rapidly and continuously driving entries into the coal seam; and mine planning techniques to ensure that the best possible overall method is used to minimize mine life-cycle costs. A current exairple of such work is the tunnel boring demonstration project being conducted in conjunction with the Eastern Associated Coal Company. Emphasis in the longwall and shortwall mining efforts is on demonstrating the effectiveness and applicability of these systems to a wider variety of conditions and on encouraging greater application of these systeirs. The systems also are being automated to increase safety, productivity, and recovery. Current demonstration include the shortwall section work being done with the Eeth Elkhorn Company and the longwall shields project being done with the Old Ben Coal Company. Conventional and continuous mining efforts are focused on optimizing system operating cycles to increase productivity, automation, and worker protection. This includes improving present system reliability; developing better secondary mining systems to increase resource recovery; and creating programs aimed at better continuous mining operations, bolting, and transport systeirs. In the advanced mining systems area, new and improved methods of mining thick, thin, and multiple coal seams are being investigated. Emphasis is on advanced concepts and techniques such as hydraulic mining and automated and borehole mining that would allow coal recovery without the presence of the miners underground. The program also is directed toward the demonstration of current technologies that allow greater extraction efficiency and of special mining systems for use in difficult mining conditions. 3. SURFACE COAL MINING In the surface coal mining area, emphasis is on the development and demonstration of extraction and reclamation mining systems to eliminate the environmental problems created by highwalls and stream siltation in the eastern states. In the western states, systems are being studied that will permit environmentally acceptable mining in areas with delicate ecologies. «l. SUPPORTING STUDIES In the supporting studies area, special studies are undertaken on various aspects of both surface and underground mining to determine where improvements are needed in equipment and methods and what consequences as well as possible costs may be expected from various alternatives. 76

5. COAL PREPARATION In coal preparation research, three areas are under investigation. The first is desulfurization of coal and high-gradient magnetic separators for removing finely divided pyrite are being investigated. The second area is the dewatering of fine coal and a small but coirpletely integrated and continuous processing test facility with a capacity of 15 to 25 tons per hour is being constructed. Third, flowsheets for differing preparation equipment configurations are being prepared to demonstrate new coal- cleaning technologies and to estimate costs as a means of transferring this technology to coal producers. 6. COAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY RESEARCH The coal mine health and safety effort has been divided into nine subprogram areas that address the unique engineering aspects of coal mining. The nine areas of research and the amount of funding are as shown in Table B-2. Fire and explosion prevention research is aimed at developing effective means for preventing, suppressing, and extinguishing fires and explosions in mining operations. Significant problems include explosive gas mixtures, explosion propagation, frictional sparks, spontaneous ignition, fires in equipment, flammable hydraulic fluids, and electrical circuits. Methane control research is being conducted to improve the technology necessary for safe and economic irining of methane-laden coal beds. Current emphasis is on demonstrating already-developed techniques while concurrently improving them. Successful degasification projects have resulted in the recovery of commercial quantities of gas. Ground control research encompasses a broad-based program that addresses the multitude of problems associated with maintaining the integrity of mine openings. Major problems continuing to receive attention include roof and floor control, surface subsidence, and waste disposal. Industrial-type hazards research is mainly directed toward the development of solutions to problems traceable to human errors or to failures in electrical and mechanical equipment and illumination, communications, and materials handling systems. The illumination work has provided the technology for standards promulgation and compliance. The respirable dust effort is aimed at reducing concentrations in underground mines, improving measurement technology, and providing worker protection. Methods are 77

TABLE B-2 Coal Mine Health and Safety Program Funding (in millions of dollars) Research Area FY 77 FY 78 Fires and explosions 2.8 2.9 Methane control 1.5 1.4 Ground control 7.5 8.1 Industrial-type hazards 8.3 9.0 Respirable dust 1.9 1.8 Noise 0.9 1.2 Industrial hygiene 1.5 1.6 Post disaster 1.4 1.3 Systems engineering 4.4 2.7 Total 30.2 30.0 78

being sought to reduce the dust hazard to safe levels while simultaneously mining at rapid and economical rates. Major problem areas include cutting coal at the face, conveyor belt operation, shuttle car or truck operation, roof bolting, and caving at the gob. Noise research is focused on abatement, instrumentation, and personal protection to reduce exposure of personnel in both underground and surface mines. Efforts are concentrated on pneumatic drills, loading machines, continuous and auger miners, cleaning plant equipment, and techniques for measuring noise exposure. Industrial hygiene research is structured to provide the information, analytical tools, and monitoring and warning devices required by the mining industry to ensure that noxious gases are controlled at safe levels in the mining environment. The major problem area is toxic gases in underground mines resulting from blasting products, diesel emissions, equipment fires, and chemical extinguishment products. Post-disaster survival and rescue research seeks to minimize injuries and fatalities that occur as a result of mine emergencies such as fires and explosions. Emphasis is on instant communication to all miners to evacuate, determining the location of and establishing communications with trapped miners, rescuing trapped miners, and protecting rescue teams. The systems engineering program stresses systems analysis of total mining systems using full-scale mine test facilities. These health and safety subprograms are closely coordinated with the Mining Enforcement and Safety Administration through a formal planning and review process. This work contributes to the technology base needed for standards promulgation, enforcement of regulations and compliance by industry. 7. PROGRAM IMPLEMENTATION It has been noted that the coal mining research program is conducted both at the Bureau's research centers and through external contract arrangements. The external contracts comprise approximately 70 percent of the annual funding available as shown in Table B-3. About 250 projects are conducted at the Bureau's five research centers each year in all of the prograir areas. Many of these are the coordinating efforts required to manage and bring together the results of the outside contract work with the in-house effort to reach an 79

TABLE B-3 External Program Statistics (All Programs) FY 76 Number $M Estimated FY 77 FY 78 $M $M Contracts 424 (71.44) (77.50) (68.00 Grants 38 58.47 Cost-sharing arrangements 46 1.89 Cooperative agreements 123 11.08 TABLE B-4 Technology Transfer Mechanisms 1972-1976 Planned 1977 Briefings 24 7 Seminars 17 9 Exhibits 16 5 Technology News 30 12 Publications 500 80

objective. Each project and contract is reviewed continuously for relevance to program objectives and funding availability. 8. TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER The USBM considers the active transfer of Bureau- developed mining research technology to the mining industry to be an integral part of its overall effort and responsibility, and one of the measures of the utility of the program is the degree to which technological advances are translated into practical application. Technology transfer mechanisms range from one-on-one discussions between research and mining personnel to technical presentations by the Bureau's research personnel. Table B-4 provides statistics on some of the technology transfer activities conducted to date and planned for the future. In addition, large-scale in-mine demonstrations, cost-sharing arrangements, and cooperative agreements provide significant transfer opportunities. 9. INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION Cooperation between the Bureau and international organizations engaged in mining research has been increasing steadily in the past several years. Working relationships have been established with all the major coal producing nations except the Peoples Republic of China. In 1976, the Bureau entered into 10 joint research projects with the National Coal Board of the United Kingdom and 5 projects with the Central Mining Institute of Poland. International collaboration is accomplished not only through such formal agreements but also through informal ad hoc arrangements involving timely information exchanges, exchanges of scientific and engineering missions, or other forms of mutual cooperative activities. Bilateral agreements between the Bureau and foreign institutions are in effect with Canada, Japan, Poland, Sweden, the USSR, and the United Kingdom and are pending with the Federal Republic of Germany and Australia. Multilateral agreements in which the Bureau has been a charter member are the International Energy Agency, the International Committee for Coal Research, Directors of Safety Institutes, and the International Safety Conference. The benefits gained through international collaboration are quite valuable in the Bureau's research, development, and demonstration program and to the U.S. mining industry in general. Duplication of effort as well as unproductive channels of investigation can be avoided, and quick advantage can be taken of new, worldwide developments from any source. 81

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