Research and Development has been a fundamental aspect of Air Blow Fans’ culture since its establishment.
Tests have revealed that Continuous Miner (CM) operations release substantial amounts of respirable dust, underscoring the need for measures to minimize miners’ and operators’ exposure to this hazard. While Wet Scrubbing is a common method for removing airborne dust in mining, the introduction of safe ionic liquid technology-based doping additives has shown superior outcomes in reducing respirable dust compared to water alone.
To tackle this problem, ABF (in collaboration with CDC Dust Control and a chemist with expertise in producing innovative activators for rubber vulcanization) conducted research into how PEGSIL, an ionic liquid used in the rubber industry, reacts with coal dust. CDC Dust Control has been a dominant African provider of dust suppression technologies for the mining and industrial sectors, utilising wet fan scrubber units for over three decades. This coverage extends to both above- and underground mining applications.
Adding a modest amount of PEGSIL, which is safe for human use, to the water feed in wet scrubbers showed superior performance to standard wet scrubbing at the same flow rate. In simple terms, the PEGSIL additive alters the water’s surface tension, improving its ability to absorb dust by making it “stickier.” This leads to better dust removal, resulting in improved operator safety, increased mining activity at the same levels, and potentially significant water conservation. Furthermore, the PEGSIL dopant is effective across the entire range of respirable coal particle diameters, unlike typical wet scrubbers.
While our initial focus was on coal mining, we are now expanding our efforts to suppress dust in the tailings of other typical mining minerals, including polyhalite and silicates.