NIOSH Emergency Technologies
Research and Development
WJU International Mining Health &
Safety Symposium
David Snyder, MS, PE
Office of Mine Safety and Health
April 7, 2011
OMSHR Research Update
• NIOSH continues to conduct and sponsor R&D relative
to the MINER Act in the following areas:
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
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
• 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
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
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
• Developed a medium frequency portable radio for use in escape
• 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
– MF model development is planned for future work
Medium Frequency Communications
Commercially Available
Distances up to 2 miles
• 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” 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
UHF to TTE Interoperability
UHF to MF to TTE Interoperability
Tracking System
Miner wears a tag or handset:
Unique ID (RFID or MAC)
Needs ‘readers’ of tags
Tracking System
• 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!

NIOSH Emergency Technologies Research and Development