Dr. Jerry Tien, an associate professor of mining engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla, has been appointed to a federal panel that will study the use of conveyor belt tunnels in ventilating underground coal mines. The study also will look at the composition and fire-retardant properties of conveyor belt materials.
In underground coal mines, fresh air flowing in a conveyor belt entry has commonly been used to facilitate ventilation in coal face areas, Tien says. The panel will further review this practice to ensure that it does not have an adverse impact on safety. Conveyor belt tunnels might also help carry flames and toxic fumes toward workers during a disaster.
Tien was appointed to the panel by U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao.
The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration announced the panel in December. The study was mandated by Congress through the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 (Miner Act), which was signed by President George W. Bush in June of last year.
Tien has 33 years of experience in mine ventilation, mine planning and mine safety. Before coming to UMR in 1985, he spent 10 years as a ventilation specialist with Peabody Coal Co., the world’s largest coal producer. Tien has also worked on international projects in Switzerland and China as an executive and as a ventilation and mine safety expert.
Joining Tien on the newly appointed panel are Jurgen Brune, chief of disaster prevention and response for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Pittsburgh; Felipe Calizaya, associate professor at the University of Utah; Thomas Mucho, a mining consultant from Washington, Pa.; Jan M. Mutmansky, professor emeritus of mining engineering at Penn State; and James Weeks, a mining consultant from Silver Spring, Md.