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: – – – – – – 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!