NIOSH Emergency Technologies
Research and Development
WJU International Mining Health &
Safety Symposium
David Snyder, MS, PE
Office of Mine Safety and Health
Research
April 7, 2011
OMSHR Research Update
• NIOSH continues to conduct and sponsor R&D relative
to the MINER Act in the following areas:
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Communications
Tracking
Oxygen Supplies
Refuge Alternatives
Rescue Technologies
Mine Monitoring and Sensor systems
• Today’s presentation will focus on Emergency
Communications and Tracking systems
NIOSH’s Contributions
• Approach… roadmap… building blocks to achieve by 2009
– National and International
• Consensus among labor, industry, government agencies
• Technical Vision
– Establish performance specifications for candidate technologies
– Fund a range and mix of technologies
• Technical Work
– Administer and oversee contract research and development
– Conduct in-mine experiments and lab R,D, & E
• Tech Transfer
– Workshops, publications, collaborating with MSHA, etc.
Hard-wired Systems – Pre- Miner Act
Limited Communications
Access
Coverage of Critical Areas with
Wireless Systems
Wireless Coverage
has tremendous
safety advantages for
the miners
Primary Communications
• Primary communications systems are those that:
– Operate in the conventional radio bands
– Use small antennas that allow the miner to have
wearable devices with long battery life
– Have sufficient throughput for general
operations
• Leaky feeder and node based systems are examples of
primary systems
– Either approach requires vulnerable infrastructure in
the mine
Survivability....The Challenge
What happens if 2000 feet
of all entries are lost?
Survivability..The Goal
Alternate
Communication
Paths
Survivability….Secondary
Systems
What if the event
happened here?
Current Research
• Improved Survivability – Secondary Systems
– TTE systems development
– Medium Frequency performance analysis
• C/T Interoperability
• “GPS denied” navigation and tracking
• C/T Systems Safety
Secondary Systems
• Secondary Systems are those that have few active
components and a high potential to survive a disaster
• Medium Frequency Systems and TTE Systems are secondary
systems may provide survivable alternative paths
• A secondary system is one which:
– Operates in non-conventional frequency bands
– Uses a large antenna that is best suited for fixed locations
or portable applications
– Does not have sufficient throughput for general
operations
NIOSH-Led CONTRIBUTIONS
Medium Frequency (MF) Systems
• Developed a medium-frequency system for face area redundancy
– Develop a bridge to allow interoperability between mediumfrequency system and the ultra-high frequency leaky feeder
system
• Developed a medium frequency portable radio for use in escape
situations
• Initial Technology developed through a U.S. Army CERDEC SBIR
• Future NIOSH research publications will help MF system designers
and users to optimize the range and performance of MF
communications
– MF model development is planned for future work
Medium Frequency Communications
Commercially Available
Distances up to 2 miles
NIOSH-Led CONTRIBUTIONS
• Through The Earth Systems
– NIOSH awarded five separate contracts for
development and demonstration of TTE systems
– By 2012, a TTE permissible communications system will
be commercially available to the mining industry
– Future NIOSH research publications will help TTE
system designers and users to optimize the range and
performance of TTE communications
– TTE model development is planned for future work
Through the Earth (TTE) Communications
Permissible Systems Results
• Feasibility of TTE communications demonstrated
• Underground to surface range of 680-ft for voice and 1200-ft for text
@ intrinsically-safe levels
• Directional finding with beacon
• Prototype hardware
Interoperability
• “Interoperability” refers to our vision of the future
of survivable mine communications in which a
low bandwidth secondary communications
channel would be used as a backup for the
primary communications system.
• Key goal - Miner would be able to
communicate using the same handheld
device as used for day to day operations
UHF to MF Interoperability
Commercially Available
• Distances up to 2 miles between repeaters
• Distances up to 2000 feet between repeaters and hand held units
Conductor
UHF
Medium
Frequency
UHF to TTE Interoperability
UHF to MF to TTE Interoperability
TTE
UHF
Medium
Frequency
Tracking System
Miner wears a tag or handset:
Unique ID (RFID or MAC)
Needs ‘readers’ of tags
Tracking System
Improvements
• Tracking System Performance Research Contract
– Define performance parameters for underground mines
– Develop measurement techniques and tools
– Competitive contract award to Virginia Tech
• Inertial Measurement Unit assisted tracking systems hold promise
for more survivable and accurate tracking
– Primary problem with IMU based systems is excessive drift of
the miner device
– NIOSH has funded evaluations of two different approaches to
the problem:
• Belt mounted radio node based correction
• Shoe mounted visual cue based correction
Future Research
Electrical Safety and Communications Team headed by
Dr. Joe Waynert
– Future C/T technology research will be conducted
under this team
– Currently staffing to expand in-house research
capabilities in the post ESA environment
– In-house research is consistent with traditional
approach and current budget
– Process includes formulating structured research
projects which are peer reviewed and normally have a
3 to 5 year timeframe
Technology Research Areas
• The team is formulating research projects in the areas of:
– Signal Propagation & Systems Modeling
– Communications & Tracking Systems Safety
– Communications & Tracking Systems Improvement
• The focus of the Electrical Safety and Communications
team is the improvement of the safety, reliability and
survivability of the C/T systems
Improving Mineworker Health & Safety
Through Research & Prevention
Never forgetting it’s about the
health & safety of the mineworker!
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NIOSH Emergency Technologies Research and Development