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Thread: Pneumatic Capsule Pipelines for Mines

  1. #1
    Dr. Reinhard H. Wöhlbier
    Online Services Dr. Wohlbier

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    Pneumatic Capsule Pipelines for Mines

    Pneumatic Capsule Pipelines for Mines

    Pneumatic Capsule Pipelines by Pneutrans Systems Ltd could greatly reduce the impact of mine disasters as well as greatly reduce transportation costs.

    On October 13, 2010, 33 Chilean miners were rescued after spending 69 days underground due to a mine disaster. They were individually hoisted 2050 feet up a bored shaft 26 inches diameter, inside a capsule measuring 22 by 75 inches raised by a cable. The one way trip took 15 minutes.

    There were a large number of coal mine disasters in the U.S.A. in the early 2000s. After the Sago Mine disaster on January 2, 2006 in West Virginia, Governor Joe Manchin called a Conference on Mine Safety in Wheeling in April of 2006. Pneutrans Systems Ltd attended. We advocated that Pneumatic Capsule Pipelines, propelled with low pressure air could:
    A. Transport products such as ore, coal and aggregate OUT of the mine to the mill.
    B. Return tailings back INTO the mine for disposal.
    These are some of the normal purposes for which a Pneumatic Capsule Pipeline is purchased.

    In the case of a disaster the following features are available:

    1. Introduce a small amount of fresh air INTO the mine at the system’s Train Receiving Area.
    2. Exhaust a small amount of heat, humidity, fumes, smoke and dust OUT of the mine from the system’s Train Sending Area.

    After the product trains are purged from the system (to the surface or the mill) special rescue trains/capsules, propelled with low pressure air, are employed to:

    3. Transport Rescue Teams, tools and equipment INTO the mine.
    4. Transport Miners, Rescuers, tools and equipment OUT of the mine.

    In the case of the Chilean mine disaster, if the Pneumatic Capsule Pipeline had been installed and in use, providing the pipeline had not been damaged, the miners’ escape would have been almost immediate. The bored shaft would not have been necessary. Pneumatic Capsule Pipelines pipes generally start at 30 inches inside diameter.

    In the case of the U.S.A. mine disasters, if Pneumatic Capsule Pipelines had been installed and in use, more miners could have survived and escaped.

    The rescue efforts at mines may be faster and perhaps less expensive when a Pneumatic Capsule Pipeline is installed and in use. There is a strong possibility the mine to mill transportation costs would be very much lower.

    Pneumatic Capsule Pipelines are flexible in their applications. They are safe, environmentally friendly and low cost to operate while having a competitive capital cost.

    For more information, please visit:

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  2. #2
    Lawrence K. Nordell

    Lawrence K. Nordell

    President and CEO

    Conveyor Dynamics Inc.

    Conveyor Dynamics Inc.

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    Elevating material in a capsule requires gas to be compressed causing heat of compression and then when the capsule is lifted the gas undergoes expansion and cooling with the expansion cycle. How much of these heating-cooling cycles are captured and how much is lost as a percentage of lift power?
    Lawrence Nordell
    Conveyor Dynamics, Inc.

    website, email & phone contacts:
    phone: USA 360-671-2200
    fax: USA 360-671-8450

  3. I am sure that this system has merits and could be considered for some niche projects. The introduction of this as a credible technology will not be achieved by advertising it on this forum however.

    If you look at other novel technologies or novel applications of existing technologies, they always take a long time to take off. The ones that have been successful are incubated in a large organisation that has the financial capacity to prove the system works so that a purchaser isn't left wondering if it will or won't work. Nobody wants to risk their project and fund your R&D at the same time. Until this product is something that people can see and touch at something approaching the scale of common commercial sizes, it will go nowhere.

    My recent experience is as a representative of a very large mining company looking to design/source feasible infrastructure to get some massive copper mines established. If a solution to the materials handling requirements can be achieved using readily available technology at a reasonable price, then that is what the decision will be. Conventional conveyors and hoists will win almost every time.

    For one of our projects, the earthworks and geotechnical risk associated with our overland conveyor meant that the conventional option was hugely expensive. We studied alternatives and found a novel solution fitted the bill. The actual decision to adopt that technology was made after a huge program of work by both the supplier and the Owner's team to prove to ourselves that it would work, be reliable and actually cost what the supplier was saying. Without the very strong engineering and manufacturing resources available to the supplier and the fact that the supplier was able to take us to existing installations we would never have selected this technology.

    The supplier for our selected technology has invested years of research and millions of Euro into designing the system, the software to design it, the construction techniques etc. Until Pneutrans does this no large mining house will touch it.

    Smaller firms with projects that are unviable any other way are your target. Look at Simbiri Gold mine where a novel conveyor system was installed that allows for access in very rugged terrain. There's a project that appears would have been very expensive to do any other way. There's a mining company that is small and dynamic enough to have a go and take a risk on something. It's paying off for them. The thing is that system was the 6th by that supplier and they'd done a bigger one already. Has Pneutrans got a system people can see & touch?

    Best of luck with the development of your system. Be prepared for a long road ahead.


  4. pneumatic capsule pipelines

    The twin pipe system at the Karasawa Limestone Mine has been

    in operation since 1980 and has transported sixty two million tons

    of broken limestone to the cement plant that is fed by the quarries

    limestone ore output since its installation in 1980.

    I hope this clarifies things again.

  5. Post Prague conference on the use of the PCP for mining and tunneling

    Mr. Wolton please find below the paper submitted
    by Dr. Kosugi and Dr. Liu which in proving once
    again the validity and high efficiency of the P.C.P.
    for both mining and tunneling.


    Western Mountain Mining and Tunneling Machinery
    Western Mountain Aggregate and Mineral Transportation Machinery
    Attached Files Attached Files

  6. #6
    Brink Weaver Guest

    Thumbs down P. B. Weaver

    Quote Originally Posted by nordell View Post
    Elevating material in a capsule requires gas to be compressed causing heat of compression and then when the capsule is lifted the gas undergoes expansion and cooling with the expansion cycle. How much of these heating-cooling cycles are captured and how much is lost as a percentage of lift power?
    All mechanical and electrical devices create heat because they are not 100% efficient. The internal combustion engine is about 40% efficient - the rest is heat. Everyone enjoys the convience of their vehicle and put up with the 60% inefficiency because fuel is relatively inexpensive. Beside, in the winter this inefficiency provides comfort for the passenger(s) by providing heat.

    Pneumatic Capsule Pipelines use low pressure air to propel the capsules - usually less than 15 P.S.I.G. Yes, there is some heat but it is used judiciously or ignored.

  7. #7

    Smile Encapsulation Indeed In Need

    I had been in the bulk handling business for many years before I realised that I was regularly employed in solving problems that had been created by incompetent selection of equipment. That was particularly true when mineral transport was involved. Owners, Contractors, Consultants, Whatever were often universally unable to recognise the implications of their quest. Pneumatic capsules for mineral transport are rare. Mining is a fundamentally unstable geotechnical activity. Capsules will surely demand low clearance levels along most of their route for most of their life. Maintaining such clearances might promise to compromise OPEX.
    In a world where mineral requirements can disappear at the whim of national import demand, or restriction, it does seem questionable to transport minerals in any specialised form of equipment. When a proposed operation is discussed the financiers want to see minimum CAPEX. Transport is nowadays recognised as a major operation where the CAPEX for fixed equipment can be very conveniently transferred into OPEX. When a site is threatened the OPEX heavy trucks can be taken to the docks, borders: anywhere safe in a storm. This is the major bargaining tool to reinstate the mine operation: especially if the trucks are robots. Capsules, like trucks, handle discrete cargoes and also need service access. In a turbulent world trucks win every time.
    A maxim for bulk handling could be 'Don't put in what you can't get out.'
    John Gateley

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