Murdoch to design safer explosions for miners

July 6, 2016

In over 200 blasts using TITAN 9000xero®, no orange post blast fume has been observed. Photo credit Dyno Nobel.A research project to tackle one of the major safety concerns for the mining industry is the focus of a three year project now underway at Murdoch University with the support of global explosives manufacturer and supplier, Dyno Nobel.

This Australian Research Council Linkage project, worth $570,000 with a further $390,000 cash and further in kind support from Dyno Nobel Asia Pacific Pty Ltd (DNAP) will investigate ways to reduce emissions of potentially toxic gas during explosions in certain conditions.

Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski, who is the Chief Investigator on the study, said the primary aim of the project was to increase safety, productivity and risk to surrounding areas by controlling levels of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide during mine blasting. If successful, the technology would have global application.

“Nitrogen dioxide is a toxic gas with a characteristic sharp pungent odour, and it is a prominent air pollutant that can be released after an ammonium nitrate based explosive is used in a small percentage of mine-site blasts,” Professor Dlugogorski said.

“When there are releases of nitrogen dioxide, concentrations in post-blast clouds can exceed recommended safety limits by 30 to 3000 times. There is a risk, if proper precautions are not taken, of a major problem for mine workers and also for more widespread dispersal across neighbouring areas.”

He said that current precautions, which follow a risk assessment of pre-blast conditions and the likelihood of nitrogen dioxide to be generated, require blasting to occur only when the prevailing winds are blowing in approved directions and that exclusion distances are set.

DNAP Research and Development Manager Dr Jeffrey Gore said Dyno Nobel had worked for several years with Professor Dlugogorski to identify suitable explosive technologies to minimise the generation of post blast fumes for application in soft and wet ground.

“An example is the Titan 9000xero® product which was developed by the DNAP Explosives R&D team in 2014. To date, in more than 200 blasts, no orange post blast fume, which may contain nitrogen dioxide, has been observed during use,” Dr Gore said.

“Additionally, Titan 9000xero® uses no non-biodegradable plastic.”

The ARC funding will enable this project to expand to include the development of new blends of no-fume high-bulk energy strength explosives and to develop better methods to sample gases from detonation fumes.

The work will be completed by Professor Dlugogorski and Dr Mohammednoor Altarawneh from Murdoch University and Dr Gore.

“Working with Murdoch University allows access to world class researchers and facilities with the right experience that can significantly shorten the development and commercialisation times for new products and technologies,” said Dr Gore.

Dr Gore said the fundamental studies of the research program would be performed at Murdoch University and when the technology was to be scaled up in explosives formulations, the work would be performed at Dyno Nobel’s R&D Centre at Mt Thorley in New South Wales.

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