Expanded Cement: New Solutions for Age-Old Problems
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Jan 1, 1986
The development of an expanded cement product represents a major advance in the technology of roof control systems. Such a product is gaining recognition as a valuable tool in today's cost- conscious coal mines. The National Coal Board's Bretby Research Lab, in conjunction with Polement Ltd., developed the first lightweight cement for use in the mines of the United Kingdom. The product, Aqualight, is a low-density (about 12.5 PCF) cement with a typical compressive strength of about 19 p.s.i. The final product increases in volume by approximately 15 times its dry powder volume. Aqualight gels in about 2 minutes, becomes self-supporting in 15 minutes, and fully cur& in 24 hours. When subjected to a load, the "cells" within its bubble structure collapse so that the product gains in density and compressive strength while retaining its integrity. Traditional methods to contain and support roof fall cavities through cribbing and blocking are both dangerous and labor-intensive. Aqualight represents a significant advantage over such traditional methods. It is non-toxic, non-cmbustible, and very easy to install. Aqualight can be pumped to the worksite from re- mote locations (as much as 600 feet), thereby reducing danger to men and equipment. Addition- ally, the strength of the cured product can be varied by adjusting the expansion ratio and resulting density. A compressive strength of 150 p.s.i. can be obtained in this manner. Although primarily designed to fill cavities resulting from roof falls. Aqualight has found a wide range of applications in mining industries around the world. In addition to cavity- filling, Aqualight has been used for ventilation stoppings, fire stoppings and emergency fire control, backfilling between arches and the roof and ribs, and backfilling of old workings. Since its recent introduction into the United States. Aqualight has been used by MICON SER- VICES, INC. to fill several roof fall cavities along headgate entries. In all cases, the cavities were contained and the longwall moved through without problems. Roof Pall cavities along main haulage entries and at shaft/slope bottoms have been successfully filled. MICON has also installed Aqualight as backfill material around arches. A current major project is the installation of trial ventilation seals using Aqualight as an alternative to traditional block and mortar construction. Pending MSHA approval, MICON anticipates the use of Aqualight in the construction of both ventilation seals and stoppings. In addition to new construction, Aqualight can be employed to repair stoppings damaged by roof convergence and floor heave. In labor savings alone, this is very attractive for remote stopping repair. Among the many other uses of Aqualight is the backfilling of old auger holes, which will support the highwall and allow access to coal re- serves which are presently sterilized.