Applications and Benefits of Non-Traditional Chemical Dust Suppression Methods

Dust control and suppression are a critical element for companies to meet safety, health, and environmental requirements. Through the application of dust suppression methods, site emissions can be reduced significantly and workers are protected.

Mining, construction, and material processing industries produce a lot of dust and airborne fumes, so they contribute greatly to environmental pollution. With dust control systems in place, dust and fumes generated by industrial processes can be suppressed and collected.

Dust suppression methods include:

  • Using microbes and their enzymes
  • Using traditional chemical dust control palliatives
  • Utilizing non-traditional chemical dust control palliatives
  • Using water
  • Using misting, cyclones, and baghouses

The subject of dust suppression methods is very broad and their different applications so vast that one needs to carefully consider what is available to utilize based on your unique dust suppression needs.

Regular mining activities in addition to unsealed haul mine road and underground mine road usage generate different types of dust. However, mining is not the only industry that generates a lot of dust. Other examples of dust-generating activities include unsealed rural roads, agricultural land and military operations.

The classification of dust suppression methods can be grouped into chemical, biological and physical methods; however, this discussion will focus on the evaluation of chemical dust suppression methods applicable in various fields.

Approaches to industrial dust control

Chemical, biological and mechanical dust suppression methods can be utilized to control different types and particle sizes of dust.

Biological dust control consists of the use of microbes, such as bacteria and their enzymes, in the process of inducing calcite precipitation with calcite matrices promoting the aggregation of dust particles.

Mechanical dust suppression methods involve the use of misting systems, cyclones and bag houses which are set up at transfer points on belts. Overall, each method works for specific scenarios which can vary greatly.

Critical to the process of dust control is dust particle size which also determines the type of method which is effective given the different sources of dust. The smaller the particle size, the more difficult it is to suppress dust particles. 

Hence, the choice of dust suppression method is crucial to the overall process of dust management. Chemical dust suppression is the preferred dust management methodology in this context.

Chemical dust suppressants can be divided into traditional and non-traditional, with the latter being preferred for its more targeted approach to chemical dust suppression. Non-traditional chemical dust suppression also poses less challenges associated with earth stewardship as it is non-toxic and does not pollute groundwater.

Examples of common non-traditional chemical dust suppressants include surfactants, waterborne polymers, and lignosulfonates (weak, natural polymers) which are very specific in their mechanisms of action.

This discussion will now look closely at non-traditional chemical dust suppression in unsealed mine haul and rural roads, agricultural lands and military applications.

Haul road and heavy duty dust control

Dust in unsealed haul roads originates from the movement of vehicles and the subsequent dislodgement of loose particulate matter and fines which generates different particle sizes of dust.

In order to understand the generation of dust, the basics of unsealed road construction should complement the structure-to-function discussion of dust suppression in unsealed roads.

Haul mine road design and construction comprises four components, namely geometric, structural, functional and maintenance design components.

Haul mine road performance is mainly measured on rolling resistance which is related to road deterioration rate from a maintenance perspective. Here, chemical dust suppression can be utilized to provide both the dust suppression and stabilization necessary to achieve the structural and functional objectives of a haul mine road.

For this, there is a formulated liquid polymer which prevents the impact of slowing down or stopping production due to poor visibility on haul mining roads. It improves dust suppression of haul mine roads by up to four or five times more than just using water alone.

Mining roads are constructed not just on the surface, so a refined synthetic fluid that offers total dust control in underground mining roads is highly recommended. Heavy wear industrial and logistics applications have similar requirements.

Unsealed rural road and broad-scale management

A fit-for-purpose approach to the design, construction and maintenance of rural roads considers traffic, climate and material availability which, in turn, feeds into the life cycle cost assessment.

Road users and local communities tend to bear the brunt of nuisance inhalable and respirable dust owing to the lack of a dust suppression system. It’s a good thing that there are liquid polymers that can be applied on nearly all soil and resource surfaces.

This complements a fit-for-purpose approach to materials that are often considered as marginal unsealed road construction resources.

In agricultural lands, the safety of livestock, farm workers, and the environment is crucial to the productivity of a farm, and resultant fugitive dust can impact negatively on production.

Reducing the effects of wind erosion and resultant dust generation can be achieved through a specialized long-chain polymer technology which offers a cost effective way to protect cropping lands and ensure soil erosion control.

Dust control for military applications

Activities in military camps can generate a lot of dust – from the drills to the movement of military personnel and vehicles. Dust generated can be ameliorated using an all-purpose polymer soil binder.

Combat and natural disaster zones are pivotal parts of military operations and there are high quality products that can be aerially deployed to effectively capture and control dust from asbestos, silica sources, heavy metals and contaminated sources, in general.

Also, since there can never be a detailed plan for eventualities in military situations, the provision for waterless dust control solutions that enable better logistical environments for military aircrafts should be at the core for operational success.

Different challenges, different solutions

Different types of dust suppression methods exist and can be categorized into chemical, biological, and mechanical.

Chemical dust suppression includes traditional and non-traditional dust suppressants, with the latter having been the main highlight in this article. Its applications encompass haul roads in mining and underground mining roads, rural roads, agricultural land, and different forms of military operations.

Across all the mentioned fields of application, there are dust suppression products in the market that cater to the needs of different clients without any limitations to the scope or availability of client-specific solutions.