By Amy Woolf
Using biodiesel in underground mines has been proven to improve the underground air quality within a few days of switching from conventional fuel to biodiesel. Air quality is the main factor relating to poor health of miners. Mining companies reported claims to the air improvement after the switch to biodiesel, which caused the Mine Safety Health Administration (MSHA) to publish a report confirming these claims. The MSHA tested the biofuel and found that it not only reduced emissions, but they also found that there was no loss of performance in machines running biodiesel, even when they run for 20 hours at times.
Risks related to the exposure to Diesel Particulate Matter (DPM) can be mild such as eye and nose irritation to more serious lung conditions. Miners are exposed to over 100 times the typical environmental concentration of diesel exhaust when working in mines that run machines on diesel fuel. The MSHA tested several blends of biodiesel and found that it did “result in a cleaner and healthier working environment.” The Rogers Group, a mining company in Kentucky, has been using biodiesel for three years in their mines, B99 (which is a 99% blend of biodiesel) in below sea level mines and B50 (50% blend of biodiesel) in mines with more natural airflow. Biodiesel in a traditional diesel engine has been proven and endorsed by the MSHA to reduce the DPM in the mining environments by reducing the quantity of harmful emissions like carbon in the particulate matter (biodiesel contains oxygen which allows for a more complete combustion of CO2).
Biodiesel is a growing sector of the renewable fuel movement. It burns cleaner than conventional fuel and can be made from vegetable oils, fats, and recycled cooking oil. It is relatively simple to manufacture, making it possible to successfully “home-brew”.
Image from: Dieselnews Australia