Laboratory assessment of the rock-fragmentation process by continuous miners

Achanti, V. B. ; Khair, A. W.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1999
Introduction Laboratory studies were carried out at West Virginia University to investigate the rock-fragmentation mechanism of continuous miners using an automated rotary cutting simulator. The primary factors influencing the fragmentation process were found to be bit spacing, bit geometry, depth of cut and cutting-drum rotational speed. This paper presents a discussion of the effects of these parameters in achieving optimum energy consumption and minimizing dust generation during rock fragmentation. The removal of rock ridges/walls between adjacent grooves is analyzed with three hits mounted simultaneously on the cutting head, while the bit tip angle was varied from 600 to 900. Bit spacing was varied from 25.4 to 50.8 mm (1 to 2 in.) while the cutting process was assessed for varying cutting depths. Respirable dusts generated during the course of the experiments were analyzed utilizing cascade impactors. Assessment of these parameters has led to a better understanding of the cutting mechanism of continuous miners in terms of energy consumption and dust generation. A review of the literature revealed that a considerable amount of research has been carried out on rockcutting processes. Many authors agree that the mechanical cutting efficiencies of mining machines (e.g., continuous miners, shearers and road headers) are affected by a host of parameters. Some of these parameters are machine controlled, some are operator controlled, while others are uncontrollable. Efforts were focused on understanding the influence of parameters such as bit spacing, cutting depth, attack angle, bit type, drum speed, bit geometry (i.e., tip size, shape and tip angle) and rock type on the cutting process efficiency in terms of specific energy consumption and respirable dust generation (Strehig?? et al., 1975, Hanson et al., 1979, Khair et al., 1989). Roepke et al. (1976) in an attempt to study the dust and energy generated during coal cutting using point attack bits found that the dust and the specific energy consumed both decrease as the depth of cut increases. The four fundamental stages of dust generation luring rock fragmentation are identified by Zipf and Bieniawski (1989). Coal breakage by various types of wedges was assessed by Evans and Pomeroy (1966) in an extensive experimental study on British coals. Yet the industry today requires further attention and guidance to optimize the energy consumption and dust generation during the rockbreakage process. This paper attempts to give a better understanding of the influence of some of the parameters listed above and focuses on further improvement in the rock-cutting process. The specific energy consumed for different types of bits used and the respirable dust generated are analyzed in the context of the variation of a few other parameters. Laboratory investigation The experiments were performed in the Rock Mechanics Laboratories located at West Virginia University. A rock-cutting simulator designed and fabricated by Khair (1984) was utilized for this purpose. The details of this machine are available in the literature (see Khair 1984). For this study, a series of preliminary experiments was carried out to determine the optimum cutting frame advance speed. This was intended to facilitate a maximum cut depth of 31.75 mm (1.25 in.) at an advance rate of 0.525 mm/s (0.0207 ips) for all types of bits being used and various bit spacings being considered. To look into the cutting-process efficiency of a continuous miner in the laboratory, several parameters of influence are being considered. Besides the bit-geometry parameters, machine- and operator-controlled parameters, such as spacing of bits on the cutting head, the cutting head rotational speed and the total cutting depth during an experiment, are varied. At the time this paper was written, only part of the completed experiments were ana¬lyzed, and a number of experiments were still being carried out following an orthogonal fractional factorial experimental plan to assess the effect of all of the above¬mentioned parameters on the cutting efficiency in terms of energy consumption and dust generation. Three different types of tip angles, namely, 60°, 75° and 90°, and two different tip sizes, namely, diameters of 7.94 and 24.61 mm (0.313 and 0.969 in.), were used. At
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