New Technologies Featured at National Mine Rescue Contest

The final day's activities Oct. 6 in Columbus, Ohio, included a mine rescue stakeholder meeting with MSHA Assistant Secretary Joe Main, and an awards banquet in the Battelle Grand Ballroom.

Some of the nation's best mine rescue teams competed this week in the 2011 National Mine Rescue, First Aid, Bench and Preshift Competition, which wrapped up Oct. 6 in Columbus, Ohio. Included in the final day's activities were a written exam for preshift participants, a mine rescue stakeholder meeting with MSHA Assistant Secretary Joe Main, and an awards banquet in the Battelle Grand Ballroom.

MSHA posted the results here. The winner in the mine rescue competition was Alpha Natural Resources' Black Mountain White Team. Arch Coal's Cumberland River Blue Team finished second, and Patriot Coal Co. finished third. The first aid competition was won by TECO Coal Corp. The Kentucky Coal Academy's MCC Team finished first in Bench Biopak 240R, Patriot Coal came in first in Bench Biopak 240S, and Kingston Resources Inc. finished first in Bench BG4. Three Patriot Coal teams finished among the top five in Combination Competition, with Walter Energy and Alpha Natural Resources teams rounding out the top five.

Officials from Battelle Memorial Institute, a research and development organization that is based in Columbus, took part in this event by bringing two new mine rescue technologies developed at the institute:

  • The Mine Barrier Survival System, a lightweight inflatable shelter, can provide refuge and a habitable atmosphere for days until help arrives, according to Battelle. It was designed by Battelle's chemical, mechanical, and mining engineers in consultation with industry experts and uses affordable, commercial off-the-shelf technologies. Its air scrubbing system ca mitigates threats, such as toxic levels of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, and reduced oxygen levels.
  • "Thumper," a Miner Acoustic Signaling and Locating System, is a repeatable pinger based on military technology. It was developed by Battelle, Pacific Scientific Energetic Materials Company, and GeoSonics/Vibra-Tech, Inc. and "generates 10 times the energy that a healthy man with a sledgehammer could create when striking a rail to help rescuers pinpoint his location," according to Battelle's description. The device is gas driven and can reliably continue sending seismic signals for 10 straight days, when reloaded once a day. Thumper would be used as a last-resort system when other means of communication have been destroyed, according to Battelle.

The competition is sponsored by the Mine Safety and Health Administration and is taking place at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

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