Miners are able to breathe easier and more affordably with K-MAX, new rigid fibreglass ventilation ducting developed by Schauenburg Industries Ltd. in North Bay.
Launched after four years of in-house research and development, the ducting offers ultimate air flow efficiency, energy savings and lower transportation costs. "We're quite excited to have a product that we can bring to the market and address all those issues," said Don Croteau, a Professional Mining Engineer and the Managing Director of Schauenburg Industries Ltd. in North Bay.
Canada's only manufacturer of filament wound and phenolic resin ventilation duct, Schauenburg has long supplied the country's mining and tunnelling industries with ducting that carries fresh air to underground miners and equipment while removing or diluting hazardous gasses or dust. Underground mining has been its biggest market. With energy costs for mine ventilation becoming more of an issue and a concern for clients, the company set about cutting those costs by reducing the K-factor of its ducting. The K-factor is a measurement of friction that moving air encounters. Rigid filament wound and phenolic resin ductwork has a lower K-factor than not only typical flexible PVC materials, but also metal and rigid plastic.
The more friction and the longer the duct, the more horsepower is needed in electric fans that drive air through the ductwork, Croteau explained.
His team began experimenting with methods to make its duct interior smoother. It tried a variety of formulas for coating mandrels, the cylindrical axles or spindles used to shape its rigid ducts. "We reduced our K-factor by about 25 per cent," said Croteau. "It was a really good K-factor, but we still had the issue of leakage at the joints so we tried different scenarios with different gaskets and seal components and we found one that worked really well."
Both the friction factor and seals were tested by CANMET, the Canada Centre for Mineral and Energy Technology in Sudbury, with great success. "I'm very excited about the results," Croteau said. "Now we have a really good K-factor which allows the air to flow through the pipe quite easily and we have some good seals at the joints so therefore you're getting maximum air flow at the end of the pipe."
Schauenburg continued its innovations. The logistics of getting rigid ducts to a mine and getting the pipe underground were still a concern. "We went back to the drawing board and looked at ways of getting...