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Formation and mitigation of toxic emissions from blasting in mining: Experimental investigation and development of aerial sampling methods

Soubans, Goruck (2021) Formation and mitigation of toxic emissions from blasting in mining: Experimental investigation and development of aerial sampling methods. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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A key aspect in optimising blasting operations in mining is reducing toxic species in post-blast fumes, notably NOx from ammonium nitrate-based mixes, which pose a direct threat to miners' health and neighbouring settlements. Reducing these pollutants can be done mainly through improving the explosive formulation and blasting practices which in turn require both A) an understanding of the physical and chemical parameters involved and B) the ability to validate any improvement through the direct field-sampling of post-blast fumes. A series of lab-based experiments on the thermal decomposition of ammonium nitrate was carried out with the complete quantification of each product using FTIR, μGC and IC. The physical parameters that varied were temperature, residence time, and whether to have reagents in dry or aqueous forms. The chemical parameters changed were the presence of oxygen gas and urea. The substantial aspect developed in those experiments relates to using high-heating rates believed to be of comparable magnitude to those occurring in blast holes in mining during detonation. The thesis then reports on developing and testing custom-designed drone sampling systems for emissions from blasting operations in mining. The key features in the final aerial sampling system developed (weighing ≤ 10 kg including drone) are i) the fast spectroscopic real-time measurement of NO, NO2, CO, CO2, N2O, NH3, VOCs and PM; and ii) the collection of VOCs and PM2.5 for post-sampling analysis using analytical techniques such as GC-MS and XRD. While sampling in a mine site was not possible, all samplers have been tested with fumes from industrial and transport sources around Perth, Western Australia and a blasting chamber in New South Wales. Two smaller systems (weighing ≤ 2 kg, including drone) sampled air toxics from urban sources.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Mathematics, Statistics, Chemistry and Physics
Supervisor(s): Mann, Graham, Oluwoye, Ibukun, Altarawneh, Mohammednoor and Senanayake, Gamini
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