Coal Combustion Byproducts-Based Artificial Mine Supports - Recent Developments
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Jan 1, 2004
The use of wooden supports, supplementary to the primary method of roof control using roof bolts in mines, consumes over 3 million cubic meters of hardwood in the U.S. annually. These supports arc primarily used in the form of cribs and posts. Along with a rapid depletion of high quality timber resources, supplies fluctuate seasonally, costs are escalating rapidly, and product quality is highly variable. Environmental considerations of global climate change put additional pressure on deforestation for utilization of timber for artificial supports. On the other hand, management of coal combustion byproducts (GCBs) from power plants has become a major issue to maintaining a healthy coal industry. The USA currently produces over 100 million tons of CCBs annually and the average cost for their management in the US is about $20/ton. This cost is expected to escalate rapidly with tougher environmental regulations. The principal author has been directing research, development, and demonstration studies for CCBs-based artificial supports and lightweight structural materials in mines for the past seven years and has made significant progress toward commercially viable products. More specifically, first and second generation crib elements and post elements have been developed, characterized analytically, and demonstrated in the field. It is estimated that about 2.5 x 10" tons of fly ash could be utilized for artificial supports in U.S coal mines and this would double if these materials were utilized in non-coal mines as well. The author believes that CCBs-based artificial supports have the potential to replace wooden supports and blocks with better performance and cost competitiveness while managing CCBs in an environmentally sound manner. This paper focuses on the development and field demonstration of CCBs-based artificial supports for use in underground mines, and its pilot scale fabrication facility. Recent analysis results on engineering performance evaluation of the developed crib under various loading conditions using finite element method are presented. The following comments highlight the developments: I ). Engineered artificial supports, crib and post elements, using CCBs as a major constituent, have significant potential for application in mines because their structural performance is significantly better than wooden cribs counterparts. 21. Engineered crib elements provide about 50% larger area for air-flow than a conventional wooden crib. 3). Engineered crib elements are not flammable. 4). Each engineered crib element utilizes about 10 kg of fly ash, about 40 % of the weight of crib element- Therefore, a typical crib 2.0 m high utilizes about 200 kg of fly ash. 5). Each 16.5 cm diameter engineered post utilizes 50 kg of fly ash. 6). Assuming 3.0 million cu. meter of wood consumed for post and crib support systems, it is estimated that about 4 - 5 million tons of fly ash may be utilized for supports fabrication in the USA. 7). An engineered post has excellent post-failure characteristics similar to wood. In addition, the engineered post also has excellent loading and unloading characteristics close to the yield point of about 75% of the ultimate load carrying capacity.