Carbon Fiber Ventilation Tubes



The Rivers Carbon Carbon Fiber Ventilation Pipes/Carbon Fiber Ventilation Tubes are an award winning innovation for the mining industry. The Tubes were awarded top honours at the highly coveted 2012 OSH Innovation awards (pdf) in New South Wales Australia.

- Download Product Brochure
- Mine Safety Technology Centre Report 26 October 2010.

Why Change?

Underground mining has most recently used fibreglass ventilation tubes as a medium-weight alternative to steel ventilation tubes. Undesirable features with fibreglass are a weight of approx 18kg – 23kg per metre for common sized tubes; poor anti-static properties; glass-fibre dust when cut; prone to collapse if struck; and prone to collapse under vacuum force. For these reasons medium-weight fibreglass tubes have been less than ideal as mining equipment.

Carbon Fibre

Now there is an alternative to medium-weight fibreglass ventilation tubes with a new innovation of carbon fibre as the principal material in ventilation tubes. The ultra-lightweight carbon fibre sandwiches a layer of honeycomb composite material to make a superior ventilation tube in all aspects. Improved features of carbon fibre ventilation tubes include:

  • Weight reduction
  • Safety
  • Strength
  • Damage tolerance
  • Repairable
  • Productivity gains

The tubes are then sealed with our innovative silicone composite ventilation ducting seals.

Weight Reduction

Our 618mm ventilation tubes weigh 9 kg compared to around 30kgs for traditional fibreglass ventilation tubes. This weight reduction has dramatically reduced incidence of injury from handling tubes and improved productivity, as light-weight tubes can be assembled and disassembled far more quickly than the fibreglass models. Carbon fibre tubes also suffer less from inertia impact as they have a lower mass and are less likely to be damaged from rough handling.

Safety

The tubes have been tested by Mine Safety NSW1 and shown to have average electrical resistance of just 10 ohms per linear meter. This compares with the upper limit to the standard of 1 million ohms. Therefore, products made from carbon fibre have excellent static electricity discharge properties, unlike fibreglass products. Uncontrolled discharge of static electricity can be a leading cause of fires in mines.

See the Mine Safety Technology Centre Report 26 October 2010.

Fire retardant tests show our carbon fibre tubes to be self extinguishing and have a zero second burn time compared to the standard which allows other tubes to have a burn time of up to 30 seconds.

Cutting the tubes to length can be performed by hand with a craft knife without producing dust, which is an unwanted by-product in cutting fibreglass tubes underground. Because the tubes are made from woven cloth they will not fray if the ends are damaged. The frayed ends of fibreglass tubes cause hand injuries and make the tubes difficult to assemble.

Strength

Due to the greater strength and high collapse pressure of our tubes, new auxiliary fans can be designed to increase airflow in the mine. By extracting more methane it is possible to drive further into the coal seam before crosscuts are required. This reduces development times within a mine, with consequent savings in labour and overhead costs.

Productivity gains at an Australian mine prove that they can eliminate 1/3 of their cross cuts, saving between 14 and 20 days in development per panel of coal.

Existing customers report that the life-span of our tubes appears to be considerably longer than fibreglass tubes. Replacement rates of 10% per annum appear likely compared to rates as high as 100% for fibreglass tubes.

Repair

We have developed a repair program with Mine Safety NSW which enables us to repair tubes back to a strength which is able to withstand a vacuum force at least seven times greater than the maximum that can be produced by the current generation of auxiliary fans.

Damage tolerance

The tubes have demonstrated greater resilience than their fibreglass counterparts. Carbon fibre tubes struck by mining equipment are strong enough that they will often spring back and continue to operate at full fan pressure without collapsing. This arises from the method of tube construction and the aerospace materials used.

Testimonials


“It’s easy to handle tubes on your own when previously it would take 2 of us…. It’s also
easy to carry the tubes down a road way where before we would have to move them on a
vehicle…. To me it is the biggest advance in coal mining in the last 20 years.”

Miner Queensland

“There were no injuries sustained in the first six months of use of our tubes whereas fibreglass tubes resulted in an average of five injuries per year”
Central Queensland Mine

“Tubes that sustain impact can remain in operation and be replaced when convenient.
This saves at least one hour of production each time it happens, because a fibreglass
tube would collapse and need to be replaced immediately,which would require stopping
production.”

Central Queensland Mine

BHP Billiton Illawarra Coal's West Cliff Mine Innovative Vent Tubes from theme media on Vimeo.