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Title:
IMPROVED AIRFLOW REGULATOR
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2009/044267
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention provides an airflow regulator for a mine passage comprising: a louvre blade pivotable to a predetermined position which is in a range from a closed position in which the louvre blade restricts at least a portion of the passage to an open position in which air is readily able to flow in the passage; and a linkage mechanism for pivoting the louvre blade wherein the linkage mechanism includes a biasing strut mechanism which only activates to pivot the louvre blade into the open position when a predetermined airflow is reached and biases the louvre blade to its predetermined position after the airflow has reduced to less than the predetermined airflow.

Inventors:
MUTTON, Verne (102 Albatross Road, Nowra, New South Wales 2541, AU)
Application Number:
IB2008/002618
Publication Date:
April 09, 2009
Filing Date:
October 03, 2008
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
MINOVA AUSTRALIA PTY LTD (102 Albatross Road, Nowra, New South Wales NSW2541, AU)
MUTTON, Verne (102 Albatross Road, Nowra, New South Wales 2541, AU)
International Classes:
F24F11/04; F24F13/15
Domestic Patent References:
WO2006108228A12006-10-19
Foreign References:
US3346007A1967-10-10
US3826179A1974-07-30
US2624265A1953-01-06
US3837268A1974-09-24
US3668999A1972-06-13
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DICKSON, Ashley B (Barker Brettell LLP, 138 Hagley RoadEdbaston, Birmingham B16 9PW, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. An airflow regulator for a mine passage comprising:

a louvre blade pivotable to a predetermined position which is in a range from a closed position in which the louvre blade restricts at least a portion of the passage to an open position in which air is readily able to flow in the passage; and

a linkage mechanism for pivoting the louvre blade wherein the linkage mechanism includes a biasing strut mechanism which only activates to pivot the louvre blade into the open position when a predetermined airflow is reached and biases the louvre blade to its predetermined position after the airflow has reduced to less than the predetermined airflow .

2. A regulator as defined in Claim 1 which comprises a frame in which the louvre blade is mounted.

3. A regulator as defined in Claim 1 or Claim 2 which comprises a plurality of louvre blades.

4. A regulator as defined in any one of the preceding claims wherein the biasing strut mechanism is a constant force biasing strut mechanism which activates when a predetermined constant force has been reached, preferably the biasing strut mechanism is a gas strut.

5. A regulator as defined in any one of the preceding claims wherein the linkage mechanism includes a linkage bar that is operatively coupled to a louvre blade via a linkage arm.

6. A regulator as defined in any one of the preceding claims wherein the linkage mechanism has a position control mechanism to selectively vary the

length of the linkage mechanism, preferably the position control mechanism is a powered actuator.

7. A regulator as defined in claim 6 wherein the linkage mechanism includes a linkage bar that is operatively coupled to a louvre blade and the biasing strut mechanism is provided between the linkage bar and the position control mechanism.

8. A louvre type airflow regulator for a mine passage comprising:

a plurality of louvre blades mounted in a frame and pivoting therein around a lengthwise axis between a predetermined position in which the louvre blades combine to close or restrict at least a portion of the passage, and an open position in which air is readily able to flow between the louvre blades and through the passage portion; and

wherein when a predetermined airflow is reached, the louvre blades are arranged to open or open further, unless already fully open, and including a return mechanism to cause the blades to return to their predetermined position after the airflow has reduced to less than the predetermined airflow, and

wherein the return mechanism includes a biasing means in the form of a strut mechanism that is operatively connected to a linkage mechanism that acts on one or more of the louvre blades to urge them into the predetermined position and wherein the return mechanism is such that the strut mechanism is not activated except when the blades open after the predetermined airflow is reached.

9. A regulator as defined in Claim 8 wherein the strut mechanism is a gas strut comprising a cylinder, piston and piston rod, preferably a free end of the piston rod is pivotally mounted to means for raising and lowering that end, preferably the means is an externally threaded rod located above a

hollow strut and a handle and threaded sleeve, turning the handle raising and lowering the threaded rod.

10. A regulator as defined in Claim 8 or Claim 9 wherein the gas strut is a constant force strut mechanism which only moves/is activated when a force in excess of 4000 Newton is applied to it.

11. A regulator as defined in any one of claims 8 to 10 wherein the return mechanism includes a vertically oriented linkage bar that is operably coupled to each louvre blade via a linkage arm one end of which is fixed to the louvre blades and the other end of which is pivotally mounted to the linkage bar.

12 A regulator as defined in Claim 11 wherein the strut mechanism is a gas strut and wherein one end of the gas strut is pivotally mounted to the linkage bar by a bracket or the like fixed to the bar such that movement of the bar moves that end of the strut.

13. A regulator substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to the Figures of the accompanying drawings.

Description:

IMPROVED AIRFLOW REGULATOR

[001] This invention relates to an improved airflow regulator particularly to a louvre type airflow regulator such as might be used in mining shafts, tunnels, raises, roadways and the like, hereinafter referred to as mine passages, to control or regulate airflow therethrough.

[002] Underground mines typically have a number of raises that act as a conduit for fresh air, with raises often formed on an air intake side of an ore body and on air return or opposite side of the ore body. Airflow at various levels in the mine or, in the case of metalliferous mines, individual mining areas called stopes, is then controlled by airflow regulators arranged, inter alia, at the entrances or exits of these raises.

[003] Known airflow regulators used in mines are referred to as drop-board regulators and have been in use for some time. Drop-board regulators typically comprise a steel H section frame fabricated in compartments of a convenient size. Into each compartment, hardwood boards are dropped down between the flanges of the H section. In this way the aperture of the regulator can be adjusted in area thereby altering the quantity of the airflow that is allowed into a given section of a mine.

[004] However, drop-board regulators require manual adjustment. In addition, before an event such as stope firing or blasting takes place, and where it is believed that the blast may physically damage a regulator, a miner has to physically remove all the boards from the regulator. This is a heavy, arduous, and time consuming task which wastes man hours and reduces mine efficiencies.

[005] WO2006/108228, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference, discloses an improved louvre type airflow regulator in which airflow is controlled by adjusting the degree to which the louvre blades are open and which are free to swing into a fully open position during blasting or

stope firing but return to the original positions after such a firing by means of a weight, gas strut or a spring.

[006] The present invention relates to improvements in the airflow regulators disclosed in WO2006/108228.

[007] Any discussion of documents, acts, materials, devices, articles or the like which has been included in the present specification is solely for the purpose of providing a context for the present invention. It is not to be taken as an admission that any or all of these matters form part of the prior art base or were common general knowledge in the field relevant to the present invention as it existed before the priority date of each claim of this application.

[008] According to the invention there is provided an airflow regulator for a mine passage comprising:

a louvre blade pivotable to a predetermined position which is in a range from a closed position in which the louvre blade restricts at least a portion of the passage to an open position in which air is readily able to flow in the passage; and

a linkage mechanism for pivoting the louvre blade wherein the linkage mechanism includes a biasing strut mechanism which only activates to pivot the louvre blade into the open position when a predetermined airflow is reached and biases the louvre blade to its predetermined position after the airflow has reduced to less than the predetermined airflow .

[009] The biasing strut mechanism forms part of the linkage mechanism when not activated and is generally movable with the linkage mechanism when not activated and so it allows the louvre blades to be moved between open and closed positions without a substantial input of force being required.

In contrast, in the embodiments of WO2006/108228 which include a gas strut, it is not possible to pivot the louvre blades without activating the gas strut. Thus, the present invention is a significant improvement on the prior art, as it means that the degree of ventilation may be easily changed without too great a force having to be exerted on the linkage mechanism. This arrangement is particularly advantageous as it allows for the air flow regulator to be easily automated, e.g. by provision of a powered actuator to move the strut mechanism. Thus the invention provides an air flow regulator that has the same strength as those of the prior art, but is reduced in weight and more flexible in its operation. Owing to the weight reduction, air flow regulators made to the present invention are easier to transport and install.

[0010] In some embodiments, the regulator may comprise a plurality of louvre blades. In some embodiments, the regulator may be an intake regulator and may comprise a plurality of louvre blades which overlap in the closed position to close or restrict at least a portion of the passage. In some embodiments, the regulator may be an exhaust regulator and may comprise a plurality of louvre blades which do not overlap in the closed position.

[0011] In some embodiments, the regulator may comprise a frame in which the louvre blade is mounted. The louvre blade may be mounted in a frame such that it may pivot therein around a lengthwise axis. An advantage of having a frame is that the regulator is easily manufactured, transported and installed.

[0012] In some embodiments, the biasing strut mechanism may be a constant force biasing strut mechanism which only activates when a predetermined constant force has been reached, e.g. from the air-flow creating a force on the louvre blade that is connected to the strut mechanism via the linkage mechanism. The biasing strut mechanism may activate by becoming compressible. The predetermined constant force may be chosen to have a value in a range from the maximum amount of force required to move the

louvre blades and the force generated by the predetermined airflow. A person of skill in the art would easily be able to determine a suitable force at which the biasing strut mechanism would activate. The predetermined airflow may be an airflow or pressure change from a deliberate or accidental explosion in a mine, for example from blasting or stope firing. The biasing strut mechanism may comprise a fluid strut, for example a gas strut. The biasing strut mechanism may have a cylinder, a piston and a piston rod. The biasing strut mechanism may comprise a spring. In some embodiments the strut mechanism is only activated when force in excess of 4000 Newton is applied to it, however the force can be varied to suit the required airflow regulator design.

[0013] In some embodiments, the linkage mechanism may include a linkage bar that is operatively coupled to a louvre blade via a linkage arm. For example, one end of the linkage arm may be fixed to a louvre blade and the other end of which is pivotally mounted to the linkage bar to urge the louvre blades to the predetermined position. In some embodiments, the linkage bar may be vertically oriented.

[0014] In some embodiments, the linkage mechanism has a selectively variable length wherein the regulator is arranged so that the louvre blade is in a closed position when the linkage mechanism has a maximum length and the louvre blade is in an open position when the linkage mechanism has a minimum length.

[0015] In some embodiments, the linkage mechanism has a position control mechanism to selectively vary the length of the linkage mechanism. The position control mechanism may be manually operated. For example, it may comprise an externally threaded rod located above a hollow strut and a handle and threaded sleeve, arranged such that by turning the handle the threaded rod may be raised or lowered into the hollow strut. The position control mechanism may be automated, for example it might be in the form of a

powered actuator operated by compressed air, electrically or hydraulically. The actuator may also comprise a manually operated position control mechanism. The linkage mechanism may have a minimum length by activation of the biasing strut mechanism or by operation of the position control mechanism.

[0016] In some embodiments the powered actuator may be remotely operated. Use of remote operation is particularly useful if the airflow regulator is positioned in a location that is difficult to reach or unsafe to reach due to contaminated air. Furthermore, remote operation can dramatically increase the speed at which the degree of ventilation may be altered. This leads to improved safety and efficiency.

[0017] In some embodiments, the biasing strut mechanism is provided between the linkage bar and the position control mechanism. For example, one end of the biasing strut mechanism, typically the cylinder end, may be mounted to the linkage bar by a bracket or the like fixed to the linkage bar such that movement of the linkage bar moves that end of the biasing strut mechanism. The cylinder end may be pivotally mounted to the linkage bar. The piston rod may be mounted to the position control mechanism.

[0018] Thus, in a broad aspect, the present invention provides a louvre type airflow regulator which allows for continuous positional adjustment of the blades and uses a preferably constant force strut mechanism for return movement of the louvres which is relatively uncompressed at rest.

[0019] According to the invention there is further provided a louvre type airflow regulator for a mine passage comprising:

a plurality of louvre blades mounted in a frame and pivoting therein around a lengthwise axis between a predetermined position in which the louvre blades combine to close or restrict at least a portion of the

passage, and an open position in which air is readily able to flow between the louvre blades and through the passage portion; and

wherein when a predetermined airflow is reached, the louvre blades are arranged to open or open further, unless already fully open, and including a return mechanism to cause the blades to return to their predetermined position after the airflow has reduced to less than the predetermined airflow, and

wherein the return mechanism includes a biasing means in the form of a strut mechanism that is operatively connected to a linkage mechanism that acts on one or more of the louvre blades to urge them into the predetermined position and wherein the return mechanism is such that the strut mechanism is not activated except when the blades open after the predetermined airflow is reached.

[0020] Typically the strut mechanism is a gas strut comprising a cylinder, piston and piston rod.

[0021] The gas strut is preferably a constant force strut mechanism which only moves/is activated when force in excess of 4000 Newtons is applied to it or some other predetermined force.

[0022] The return mechanism may includes a vertically oriented linkage bar that is coupled to each louvre blade via a linkage arm one end of which is fixed to the louvre blades and the other end of which is pivotally mounted to the linkage bar.

[0023] Preferably, one end of the gas strut, typically the cylinder end is pivotally mounted to the linkage bar by a bracket or the like fixed to the bar such that movement of the bar moves that end of the strut.

[0024] A free end of the piston rod is preferably pivotally mounted to means for raising and lowering that end and hence the linkage bar.

[0025] In one preferred embodiment the means is an externally threaded rod located above a hollow strut and a handle and threaded sleeve, turning the handle raising and lowering the threaded rod.

[0026] The term "predetermined airflow" can include within its scope predetermined air pressure, and typically, though not exclusively relates to an increase in airflow/pressure due to blasting/stope firing.

[0027] Airflow will typically act on the blades due to air currents which may flow in either direction through the regulator. However these flows of normal ventilation air will not typically be of sufficient force to cause the louvre blades to move.

[0028] Specific embodiments of the present invention will now be described by way of example only and with reference to the accompany drawings in which:

Figure 1 is a front view of a louvre type regulator according to a first embodiment of the invention with the blades in an open position;

Figure 2 is a top view of the louvre type regulator as shown in Figure 1

Figure 3 is a side view of the louvre type regulator as shown in Figure 1 with the blades in a fully open position;

Figure 4 is a side view of the louvre regulator as shown in Figure 1 with the blades in a fully closed position;

Figure 5 is a side view of the regulator as shown in Figure 1 with the blades in a partly open position as a result of airflow or manual adjustment;

Figure 6 is a side view of the regulator of Figure 5 with the blades having opened further;

Figure 7 is a front view of an automated louvre type regulator according to a second embodiment of the invention;

Figure 8 is a side view of the louvre type regulator of Figure 7 with the blades in a standard closed position;

Figure 9 is a side view of the louvre type regulator of Figure 7 with the blades halfway between an open and a closed position;

Figure 10 is a side view of the louvre type regulator of Figure 7 with the blades in a standard open position;

Figure 11 is a side view of the louvre type regulator of Figure 7 with the blades in a blast open position; and

Figure 12 is a plan view of the louvre type regulator of Figure 7.

[0029] Referring now to the drawings, a louvre regulator 10 or module according to a first embodiment of the invention is shown for mounting in a mine passage in Figures 1 to 4. The regulator 10 comprises a plurality of louvre blades 12, 14, 16 and 18 mounted in a rectangular steel frame 20. The frame 20 is designed for retro-fitting to an in situ drop-board regulator frame 21 (refer to figure 2). However, it could also be fabricated in a new frame for fitting to mine openings.

[0030] Each louvre blade 12,14,16,18 is mounted at its opposed ends in the frame 20 and is able to pivot around its lengthwise axis 22 between a closed or partially closed position in which the louvre blades 12,14,16, 18 combine to close or restrict gas flow through at least a portion of the passage and an open position in which gas, typically air is able to more easily flow between the louvre blades 12, 14,16, 18 and through the passage. As is best seen in Figure 3, the axis 22 is defined by /located in a bar 22 mounted, typically welded, to the rear of the louvre blade 12,14,16,18 and adjacent an upper edge thereof.

[0031] As is best seen in Figure 4, the louvre blades 12,14, 16,18 overlap in the closed position which is especially useful for an intake louvre regulator as it results in the forming of a seal, due to pressure on the louvre blade front faces 82,84,86,88 of passage ventilation air. It would also be possible to use a non lapped arrangement for an exhaust louvre regulator.

[0032] An adjustment and biasing mechanism 90 for acting on each louvre blade 12,14,16,18 is provided.

[0033] The adjustment and biasing mechanism 90 includes a vertical linkage bar 30 that is coupled to each louvre blade 12,14,16,18 via linkage arms in the form of double brackets 32, one end of which is fixed (welded) to the louvre blades 12,14,16, 18 and the other end of which is mounted by a respective coupling pivot 34 to the linkage bar 30.

[0034] The biasing mechanism 90 includes a constant force gas strut 50 including a cylinder 52 and piston rod 54. The gas strut 50 is set to activate (i.e. the piston rod 54 moves into the cylinder 52 compressing the gas inside) when a blast force superimposed on the louvre blades transmits a force through the linkage bar and (typically of 4000 Newton or more) is applied to the piston rod 54. The cylinder end 53 of the gas strut 50 is pivotally mounted to the linkage bar 30 by a bracket or clevis 55 or the like fixed to the bar 30 such that movement of the bar 30 moves that end of the strut 50 and vice versa.

[0035] A free end 56 of the piston rod 54 is pivotally mounted to an externally threaded rod 59. A position control mechanism 58 which includes a handle 60 in the form of cruciform intersecting levers, or a wheel, is fixed to an internally threaded sleeve 62 located above a hollow strut 64.

[0036] In use, turning the handle/levers 60 in one sense (either clockwise or anti-clockwise) will cause the threaded rod 59 to rise vertically and at the same time push upwardly the piston rod 54 of the gas strut 50 against the

weight of the linkage rod 30. The weight of the linkage rod 30 is not sufficient to compress the gas strut 50. When the module 10 is "at rest" - i.e. not during blasting or at times where the airflow is below the predetermined level, in the fully open position shown in Figure 3 or the fully closed position shown in Figure 4, or any intermediate position, the constant force gas strut 50 is not compressed. This makes adjustment of the louvres 12,14,16,18 easier and safer as the gas strut 50 does not have to be compressed or decompressed as the louvres 12, 14, 16,18 are adjusted to change the degree of ventilation. Adjustment is also continuous between the fully open and closed positions by simple rotation of the handle/levers 60, to set the louvre blades 12,14, 16,18 to allow the required amount of ventilation.

[0037] With reference now to Figures 4 and 5, the gas strut 50 only becomes compressed during greatly increased air flow 100 such as would occur during blasting or stope firing when the position of the threaded rod 59 remains fixed and the louvre blades 12,14,16,18 rotate in an anti-clockwise or upward direction "A" , pushing the piston rod 54 into the cylinder 52 and compressing the gas strut 50. Such action provides a bias to return the louvre blades 12,14,16,18 to their set position after the greatly increased air flow 100 has subsided after firing.

[0038] In Figures 7 to 12, a second embodiment of a louvre regulator 110 according to the present invention is shown. Louvre regulator 110 is an automated louvre regulator in that the manually operated mechanism 58 of the first embodiment for adjusting the position of the strut 50 is replaced by a powered actuator. Like features of the second embodiment to features of the first embodiment are identified by like reference numerals.

[0039] Louvre regulator 110 comprises a plurality of louvre blades 112, 114,116,118 mounted in a rectangular steel frame 120. The frame 120 is designed for retro-fitting to an in situ drop-board regulator frame 121 shown in Figure 12. However, the regulator 110 could also be fabricated in a new

frame (not shown) for fitting to a mine opening or a passage way. Each louvre blade 112,114, 116,118 is mounted at its opposed ends (one of which is indicated as 122a in Figure 7) in the frame 120 and is able to pivot around its lengthwise axis 122 between a closed or partially closed position (such as that shown in Figures 7 and 8) in which the louvre blades 112,114, 116,118 combine to close or restrict gas flow through at least a portion of the passage and an open position (shown in Figures 10 and 11) in which gas, typically air is able to more easily flow between the louvre blades 112,114,116,118 and through the passage. The axis 122 is defined by/located in a bar 122 mounted, typically welded, to the rear of the louvre blade 112,114,116,118 and adjacent an upper edge thereof.

[0040] As is best seen in Figure 8, the louvre blades 112, 114,116,118 overlap in the closed position which is especially useful for an intake louvre as it results in the forming of a seal, due to pressure on the louvre blade front faces 182, 184,186,188 from passage ventilation air. It would also be possible to use a non lapped arrangement for an exhaust louvre.

[0041] An adjustment and biasing mechanism 190 for acting on each louvre blade 112,114,116,118 is provided.

[0042] The adjustment and biasing mechanism 190 includes a vertical linkage bar 130 that is operably coupled to each louvre blade 112,114,116,118 via linkage arms in the form of double brackets 132, one end of which is fixed (welded) to the louvre blades 112, 114,116,118 and the other end of which is mounted by respective coupling pivots 134 to the linkage bar 130.

[0043] The biasing mechanism 190 includes a constant force gas strut 150 including a cylinder 152 and piston rod 154. The gas strut 150 is set to activate (i.e. the piston rod 154 moves into the cylinder 152 compressing the gas inside) when a strong force (typically of 4000 Newton or more) is applied to the piston rod 154. The strong force is selected to be approximately the

force applied to the louvre blades 112, 114,116, 118 by air flow created during blasting in a mine. The cylinder end 153 of the gas strut 150 is pivotally mounted to the linkage bar 130 by a bracket 155 or the like fixed to the bar 130 such that movement of the bar 130 moves that end of the strut 150 and vice versa.

[0044] The powered actuator 175 comprises a body 171 , rod housing 172 and an extendable rod 173. Free end 156 of piston rod 154 is attached to free end 174 of actuator rod 173 by connector 178.

[0045] The actuator 175 is arranged such that through movement of actuator rod 173 from an extended position to a retracted position, as shown respectively in Figures 8 and 10, the louvre blades 112,114,116,118 may be moved from a closed position (under regular air flow) to an open position.

Thus, under regular conditions, when the actuator rod 173 is extended the louvre blades 112,114,116, 118 are closed, and when the actuator rod 173 is retracted the louvre blades 112,114,116,118 are open. When the actuator rod

173 is partially extended for example to a predetermined position, the louvre blades 112,114,116,118 are partly open (as shown in Figure 9) . The actuator rod 173 may be extended and retracted by remote operation such that a desired rate of flow of ventilation air may be obtained, for example as shown in Figure 9.

[0046] When the module 110 is "at rest" - i.e. not during blasting or at times where the airflow is below the predetermined level, in the fully open position shown in Figure 10 or the fully closed position shown in Figure 8, or any intermediate position such as that shown in Figure 9, the gas strut 150 is relatively uncompressed. This makes adjustment of the louvres 112, 114,116,118 by actuator 175 easier and safer as the gas strut 150 does not have to be compressed or decompressed as the louvres 112, 114,116,118 are adjusted to change the degree of ventilation. Accordingly, actuator 175 does not have to overcome the resisting force of the gas strut 150 to effect

adjustment of the position of the louvres 112, 114,116,118. Thus the power consumption of the actuator 175 is less than that required in the prior art, as the force required to move the louvres 112,114,116, 118 is much less. As the actuator 175 is attached to the gas strut 150, the actuator 175 has to be rated to at least the resisting force of the gas strut 150 or greater so that it is able to withstand transmitted forces on the louvre blades 112,114,116,118, e.g. from the impact of the increased air flow 100 from an explosion. This is in order that the actuator 175 is not deflected from its predetermined position by the impact of the increased air flow 100.

[0047] The actuator 175 is provided with a mechanism (not shown) for manual operation such that if electric power is not available the louvre regulator 110 may still be operated by manual extension and retraction of the extensible rod 173 of the actuator 175.

[0048] In the present embodiment the actuator 75 is a LinakĀ® LA36 actuator, but it will be appreciated that any suitable actuator might be used.

[0049] Figure 11 shows the louvre regulator 110 with its louvre blades 112,114,116,118 having been forcibly rotated into an open position by increased air flow 100, such as from blasting, thereby compressing the gas strut 150.

[0050] The present invention provides a low cost, light-weight louvre blade base regulator which is easy to adjust and which provides continuous adjustment of the position of the louvre blades.

[0051] It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that numerous variations and/or modifications may be made to the invention as shown in the specific embodiments without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention as broadly described. The present embodiments are, therefore, to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive.