Drilling Equipment & Roof Supports

Two mechanical aids will be researched to provide physical access to areas of a mine cut off by a serious incident, thereby permitting information to be gathered using small unmanned vehicles and facilitating communication. Potentially, such equipment could also be used to allow trapped miners to be freed.

Electromagnetic Torsional Drilling

In typical systems of cutting, cylinder extraction is achieved by generating appropriate forces or torques to act on a substrate, causing its destruction. Impact heads are also used for improved efficiency. Novel research in this project will be carried out into the use of torsional torque, with frequencies close or equal to the natural frequency of mined rock, to improve the efficiency of drilling. The pulsating torque will be produced using an electromagnetic torsional generator. Such equipment could be used to drill a tunnel through solid rock or rubble, to reach potentially trapped miners, with the advantage of reduced size and weight and the ability to operate on internal batteries, compared to conventional drilling rigs. Much quicker deployment and operation and independence from a mine’s fixed power network are major benefits. A block diagram of the drilling rig is shown in the following diagram.

Block diagram of Drilling Rig: (1) Drill, (2) Torsional Vibration Generator,
(3) Magnetic Gear or Torque Converter, (4) Motor Drive, (5) High-speed Shaft, (6) Low-speed Shaft

Composite Roof Supports

Conventional steel props, as used for additional reinforcement in cases of roof falls and primary support in irregularly shaped galleries or during face salvage, have a relatively high load bearing capacity but can weight from 90kg to 200kg depending on their construction, height and capacity. This weight is considered a major drawback for rescue use such as supporting temporarily drilled tunnels, so a new construction of prop will be developed that will provide a favourable combination of strength and low weight for ease of transportation by rescuers. In particular, steel will be substituted by modern composite materials. Such composites can provide sufficient strength while also being non-combustible, an important consideration in this application.