Firwin MineWrap – Insulation Solutions for Underground Mining
From scoops and scalers to pallet handlers and personnel carriers, underground mining relies on diesel-powered equipment to get the job done. Diesel power provides the mine with a rugged, reliable, and cost-effective energy source.
Underground mining poses a number of challenges when it comes to the safe and efficient use of diesel-powered mining equipment, such as:
- Exposed exhaust and engine components. Diesel exhaust can get extremely hot. With work in an underground mine often taking place within confined spaces, workers are at risk from severe burns from uncovered exhausts and engine components.
- Diesel particulate matter. Exhaust from diesel powered mining equipment must be properly filtered to protect personnel from noxious fumes.
- Fire safety. Oil from a burst hydraulic hose or engine leak can start to smoke upon contacting exposed exhaust components.
- High ambient heat. The heat generated by diesel-powered equipment can heat up an already sweltering underground environment. Furthermore, it can cause heat-sensitive cables and sensors to malfunction.
Meeting the challenges: How Insulation Blankets Can Help
Blanketing the exposed engine and exhaust components is an important step in meeting the challenges that come with operating diesel-powered equipment. Once properly insulated, ambient heat is reduced and workers are shielded from burns. A good ventilation system is essential in ensuring that hot air is removed and cooler air is brought in, as well as removing noxious fumes from the mine.
Pollution control equipment, such as catalysts and particulate filters, are essential in removing much of the noxious material before it leaves the exhaust. Proper insulation can even help catalysts burn exhaust pollutants more effectively by maintaining an optimal high exhaust temperature as the exhaust travels along the piping and into the catalyst.
Standard Insulation Blankets: Why They Sometimes Fall Short
Standard insulation blankets have two features which can make them less than ideal for an underground mining environment:
- The underside of a regular-issue insulation blanket is typically fiberglass material, which is non-combustible and held in place by wire mesh. While fine for most applications, in an underground mine, oil from engine leaks or burst hydraulic lines can seep underneath an insulation blanket and lodge in the insulation material. Separated from the hot component by only a wire mesh, this mixture of oil and insulation material can become a fire hazard—the last thing you want in a underground mine.
- The second limitation of standard insulation blankets is the outer cover. Typically made from a silicone impregnated fiberglass, the outer cover is designed to be durable and withstand normal wear and tear for years. In an underground mine, however, the confined spaces and potential rock falls can lead to sharp objects coming into contact with the insulation blankets. Not designed to withstand this kind of treatment, regular insulation blankets can be prone to tearing or puncture.
MineWrap™ Insulation Blankets: Designed for the Underground Mine
To meet these concerns, Firwin’s R&D department designed a blanket with the specific needs of underground mining in mind. Known as MineWrap™ Mark II, this blanket features a stainless steel inner liner which seals off the insulation material and prevents any oil from seeping in.
For applications that require extra strength and rigidity to reinforce the outer cover, the MineWrap™ Mark III blanket features a reinforced stainless steel foil exterior, which in turn is covered with a stainless steel mesh. Joint safety seals can be added to further seal off any exposed exhaust between blanket sections.
With its added dimensions of increased fire safety and rugged exterior, MineWrap™ has become the insulation blanket of choice for a number of mines and equipment manufacturers.
Permanent Composite Hard Coat Insulation
Underground mining operations may also consider a more permanent insulation solution for some of their equipment—especially equipment in which the insulation does not need to be removable. Our Permanent Composite Hard Coat insulation solution coats equipment in a thin layer of insulation that prevents hydraulic fluid and oil from engine leaks or busted hoses from igniting or building up on equipment. The process requires that equipment parts be disassembled and sent to our plant. Once a part arrives, we apply insulation and return the component to you as needed.
Other benefits of our Permanent Composite Hard Coat insulation include:
- Can handle long-term exposure to high temperatures
- Not prone to tearing, does not become brittle over time – more durable than removable blankets
- Reduces overall heat stress for the application/area by lowering ambient temperatures
- Protects personnel from burns