MineARC Systems was honoured with the Global Safety Initiative of the Year award at the 2015 International ITA Awards for their new compressed air management system.
Designed specifically to provide compressed air and maintain positive pressure within refuge chambers in the mining, tunnelling and petrochemical industries, MineARC’s compressed air management system (CAMS) was recognised by ITA as an industry-leading solution that has led to reduced running costs and improved operational safety and serviceability.
Providing primary life support for survival in a refuge chamber during an emergency, compressed air needs to be treated before it can be safely used for breathing. MineARC’s CAMS is different from most compressed air filtration systems with an extensive list of features and benefits.
Unlike traditional breathable air systems consisting of a three-stage process, CAMS features a four-phase filtration method involving a water separator followed by preliminary, coalescing and absorption filters. This process ensures the air inside a refuge chamber is free from contaminants such as hydrocarbons, dust particles, moisture and oil.
CAMS has the capability to manage the flow of compressed air into the refuge chamber. According to Daragh Quinn, lead engineer in charge of the CAMS project, the electrical cost of running compressed air represents a major expense for any industrial project. Refuge chambers require positive pressure to restrict the infiltration of smoke and other toxins, and remain emergency-ready at all times. However, the cost of supplying continual compressed air to the chamber can be considerable over time.
CAMS is designed to regulate airflow with the chamber emitting periodic bursts of air to maintain an internal pressure of 200pa. This creates a positive pressure seal ensuring contaminants cannot enter the refuge chamber from the outside environment. CAMS’ performance ensures the facility can achieve significant operational cost savings as well as reduced wear and tear to on-site compressed air equipment over the course of a year.
CAMS has been third-party tested to prove its efficiency and economic savings during normal running conditions. Tests were conducted to measure compressor power consumption rates on MineARC Standard and Compact Design Refuge Chambers, both with and without CAMS, confirming MineARC’s own in-house test results.
An important feature of MineARC’s compressed air management system is a unique, integrated gas toxicity monitor with auto shut-off that will prevent the infiltration of carbon monoxide and other toxins into the refuge chamber in the event of a fire. The gas toxicity monitor activates a solenoid valve at the air intake, which automatically shuts off compressed air if oxygen levels in the air line fall below 19%; once activated the CAMS auto shut-off solenoid will remain closed for the remainder of entrapment, ensuring no toxins enter the chamber through the air line.
The flood protector feature will prevent water ingress into the refuge chamber in the event of accidental flooding, which can often occur due to human error or excessive condensation from the compressor, causing catastrophic and costly damage to the interior of the chamber. When water enters the compressed air line, the flood protection valve will be sealed shut, preventing any water from entering the chamber. The water pressure will seal the valve shut until the water source is eliminated and the filter is drained.
MineARC’s compressed air management system can also be easily serviced, according to Brad Whittaker, MineARC Service Manager, who explains that a unique click-in-click-out bayonet clipping system removes the need for traditional threaded rod elements and screw-in filter housings that can break due to wear and tear. This precision snap and lock design also reduces service time by up to 80%, which is a major advantage to clients.
The award-winning compressed air management system is now standard on all new MineARC refuge chambers. It can also be retrofitted to any existing permanent or portable chamber, extending the benefits of this innovative technology to all industries.
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