Global statistics from the World Health Organisation estimate there were 25 000 deaths from pneumoconiosis and 46 000 deaths from silicosis in 2013.

Inhalation of dust over a prolonged period of time can result in a range of occupational illnesses and diseases.

More so, the most hazardous dust is not always visible – respirable dust and respirable crystalline silica can be thought of as ‘invisible dust’ because the dust particles are too small to be seen with the naked eye.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 9 2018

Dust particles are generated and can become airborne during many of the extraction and processing activities associated with producing and processing rock and mineral products.

These activities include:

  • drilling
  • blasting
  • excavating
  • loading and tipping
  • transporting
  • crushing, conveying and screening
  • cutting and sawing
  • stockpiling
  • bagging; and
  • cleaning and maintaining fixed and mobile plant

Workers who inhale these very small crystalline silica particles are at increased risk of developing serious silica-related diseases, including:

  • Silicosis, an incurable lung disease that can lead to disability and death
  • Lung cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); and
  • Kidney disease

Since its inception, Sy-klone has been focused on the development of a pre-cleaning technology that will take particles out of the air before that air flows into an engine.

Over a period of 13 years, Sy-klone developed a filtration solution to protect the lung health of human operators.

Since then, the company has developed additional technologies to improve the system beyond the pre-cleaning system.

Sy-klone is represented in the SADC region by Trysome Auto Electrial Engineering.

This includes an entirely new filter media that can stop particles at 0.3 microns with 95% efficiency, once again disrupting the industry with its innovation.

In an environment where a conventional filter lasts 24 – 48 hours, these new RadialSHIELD filters combined with Sy-klone’s patented RESPA technology, which is already proven in the mining industry, can last 1 000 hours.

The system pulls particles down to 5 microns out of the air before they get to the filter, while the filter itself can stop particles down to 0.3 microns.

Finally, the remaining air is sent into the operator cabin where it can be safely breathed – and here, another key innovation is at play.

The system pushes the air into the cab at a rate that keeps the pressure inside higher than the pressure outside.

This creates a positive pressure inside the cabin so that air can only leak outward.

What does a cab air quality system comprise?

A complete system is comprised of three parts:

  • fresh air precleaner/filter/pressuriser
  • high-efficiency recirculation filtration; and
  • a pressure monitor

How a complete cab air quality system works

  1. Fresh air and debris are pulled into the powered precleaner/filter/pressuriser
  2. Debris is separated from the airflow and ejected
  3. Cleaned and filtered air is delivered to the HVAC unit without added restriction by the powered RESPA unit. This creates a positive pressure, so dust is not sucked into cab.
  4. Clean, filtered and conditioned air flows through cab
  5. Monitor alerts operator to loss of positive pressure in cab and when to change RESPA filter
  6. High-efficiency recirculation filtration (powered RESPA-CFX or non-powered RESPA-FFX2) continuously removes dust from cab, minimising settled dust accumulation. Clean, filtered air flows back to HVAC plenum

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