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1. (WO2018071965) MINE VENTILATION ASSEMBLY
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MINE VENTILATION ASSEMBLY

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates to a mine ventilation assembly. More particularly, the invention relates to a ventilation assembly that is suitable for ventilating underground mines.

BACKGROUND

The discussion of any prior art documents, techniques, methods or apparatus is not to be taken to constitute any admission or evidence that such prior art forms, or ever formed, part of the common general knowledge.

Conventional ventilation systems use air blowers and fans for circulating air in a desired air flow direction. Air blowers or fans typically include a number of fan blades that are disposed about a common axis and driven thereabout by a co-axial driving means such as a spindle of an electric motor. The installation and maintenance of such air blowers and fans with a number of moving parts particularly in an underground mining environment is cumbersome and expensive. Accordingly, there is a need for an improved ventilation system and device.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one aspect, the invention provides a ventilating assembly adapted for use in a ventilating system, the assembly comprising: a body defining a passage for allowing flow of fluid therethrough, the passage being positioned relative to an inlet for receiving fluid and an outlet for expelling the fluid, a fastening arrangement for fastening the body to a supporting structure anda nozzle positionedinwardly in the body for releasing a stream of pressurised fluid in the passage to draw a fluid stream into the passage through the inlet and directing the flow of fluid in the passage in a general direction from the inlet towards the outlet.

In an embodiment, the nozzle is positioned for providing the stream of pressurised fluid in a circular or spiral pattern.

In an embodiment, an inner wall of the body includes a plurality of vanes or fins for controlling the direction of the flow of fluid through the passage, during use. Preferably, the vanes or fins are provided in a collar member positioned along an inner wall of the body.

In an embodiment, the nozzle comprises a plurality of spaced apart surfaces, said surfaces defining a fluid flow cavity extending substantially around a peripheral portion of the body, wherein the pressurised fluid is received into the cavity and released out of the nozzle through a mouth of the nozzle.

Preferably, the mouth is directed inwardly into the passage, the mouth being adapted for releasing the stream of pressurised fluid into the passage during use.

In an embodiment, the cavity of the nozzle is defined by a first surface spaced away from a second surface such that the first and second surfaces converge towards each other to form the mouth. Preferably, the width of an opening defined by the mouth is less than 1.5mm.

In an embodiment, the nozzle forms an in use Venturi tube, the nozzle comprising a converging entrance for receiving the pressurised fluid and a throat portion in fluid communication with the mouth, such that flow of the pressurised fluid through the throat portion increases velocity of the pressurised fluid and reduces static pressure of the fluid before exiting the nozzle through the mouth.

In an embodiment, the nozzle includes one or more connectors for connecting one or more fluid lines for receiving pressurised fluid.

Preferably, the nozzle includes: at least a first plurality of connectors for connecting a first plurality of one or more fluid lines and receiving a first pressurised fluid; and at least a second plurality of connectors for connecting a second plurality of one or more fluid lines for receiving a second pressurised fluid.

In a preferred embodiment, the first plurality of connectors may be connected to one or more fluid lines supplying pressurised air. The second plurality of connectors may be connected to a second plurality of one or more fluid lines supplying pressurised water.

In an embodiment, said one or more connectors are disposed at an acute angle relative to an imaginary longitudinal axis of the body.

In an embodiment, the cavity of the nozzle is shaped as a conical frustum.

In an embodiment, the nozzle extends substantially around the passage, preferably extending substantially cylindrically about an imaginary longitudinal axis of the passage.

In an embodiment, the cavity of the nozzle is defined by an inner slanting surface of a section of a first hollow conical body, said inner slanting surfaced being spaced away from an outer slanting surface of a section of a second hollow conical body.

Preferably, the inner slanting surface is provided by a section of the first hollow conical body having a first slant length and wherein the outer slanting surface is provided by a section of the second hollow conical body having a second slant length and wherein slant angle of the first hollow conical body is less than the slant angle of the second hollow conical body.

In an embodiment, the assembly further comprises an inter-locking mechanism for inter-locking two or more of said assemblies for allowing passage of fluid from at least a first ventilating assembly to a second ventilating assembly during use.

In an embodiment, the inlet and the outlet of the passage include respective engaging portions for allowing the inlet of a first ventilating assembly to be fluidly coupled with the outlet of a second ventilating assembly.

Preferably, the engagement portion of the inlet forms one of a male or female coupling portion and the engagement portion of the outlet forms the other of the male or female coupling portion to allow the inlet of a first ventilating assembly to be fluidly coupled with the outlet of a second ventilating assembly during use.

In an embodiment, the body defining the passage is substantially cylindrical.

In an embodiment, the inlet and/or outlet of the passage comprises a substantially circular opening for allowing passage of fluid therethrough.

In an embodiment, the body is formed from carbon fiber composite material.

In an embodiment, an outer wall of the body comprises one or more mounts for mounting the assembly to a mounting surface.

In an embodiment, the outer wall comprises one or more handles for allowing an installer to grasp the handle and position the assembly for installation.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The Detailed Description is not to be regarded as limiting the scope of the preceding Summary of the Invention in any way. The Detailed Description will make reference to a number of drawings as follows:

Figure 1 is a first perspective view of a ventilating assembly 100 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

Figure 1 B is an in-us perspective view of the ventilating assembly 100.

Figure 2 is a top perspective view of the ventilating assembly 100.

Figure 3 is a sectional view of the ventilating assembly 100.

Figure 4 illustrates perspective views of sections 55 and 57 that forms a part of a nozzle 50 provided in the ventilating assembly 100.

Figure 5 is an enlarged sectional view of the nozzle 50 that forms a part of a nozzle 50 provided in the ventilating assembly 100.

Figure 6 is a second perspective view of the ventilating assembly 100.

Figure 7 is an in-use third perspective view of the ventilating assembly 100 indicating fluid flow directions.

Figure 8 is a schematic illustration of a manifold 150 for supplying pressurized fluid to the ventilating assembly 100.

Figure 9A is a sectional view of a ventilating system 100 comprising a plurality of ventilating assemblies 100A to 100E connected in series for ventilating an underground mine (in-use configuration).

Figure 9B is a sectional enlarged view of ventilating assemblies 100A and 100B in a fluidly coupled configuration.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to Figures 1 to 7, a ventilating assembly 100 for ventilating underground mines is illustrated. The ventilating assembly comprises a cylindrical body 30 that defines a passage for allowing air flow in a ventilating system. The cylindrical body 30 includes two opposed ends. A first end 20 forms a circular opening that functions as an inlet 22 for circulating air that enters the passage formed by the body 30. A second end 40 that is located at an opposite end relative the first end 20 includes a circular opening that functions as an outlet 42 that allows air to flow out of the passage defined by the body 30.

The body 30 in the preferred embodiment is formed from a carbon fibre composite material. An outer wall of the body 30 is provided with a handle 35 (Figure 6) that allows an installer to lift the ventilating assembly 100 during installation. The outer wall of the body 30 may also be provided with mounting means in the form of mounting brackets 37 (Figure 7) that allow the ventilating assembly 100 to be mounted onto a mounting surface.

Referring to Figures 3 to 6, a nozzle 50 is positioned in the body 30 for releasing a stream of pressurised fluid (pressurised air or a combination of pressurised air and water) in the passage for directing the flow of fluid in the passage in a general direction from the inlet 22 towards the outlet 42. The nozzle 50 is positioned along the wall of the body 30 so that the stream of pressurised fluid released by the nozzle 50 draws a fluid stream into the passage through the inlet 22. In the preferred embodiment, the nozzle 50 comprises a mouth 59 having opening that is 1 mm wide. The mouth 59 is directed inwardly into the passage and is adapted for releasing the stream of pressurised fluid into the passage defined by the body 30, preferably in a circular or a spiral pattern.

The nozzle 50 comprises two spaced apart surfaces defining a fluid flow cavity that extends radially along the body 30. The cavity of the nozzle 50 is shaped as a conical frustum (as evident particularly in Figures 3 to 5) and extends substantially cylindrically about an imaginary longitudinal axis of the body 30. Specifically, the cavity in the nozzle 50 is defined by an inner slanting surface 55A (provided by a section 55 of a first hollow conical body) that is spaced away from an outer slanting surface 57B (provided by a section 57 of a second hollow conical body).

As shown particularly clearly in Figure 3 to 5, the inner slanting surface 55A is provided by a section 55 of the first hollow conical body having a first slant length (s1 ). The outer slanting surface by the section 57 of the second hollow conical body has a second slant length (s2). The slant angle (θι) of the first section 55 is less than the slant angle (θ2) of the second section 57.

During use, the nozzle 50 forms an in use Venturi tube. Specifically, the slanting surfaces provided by the sections 55 and 57 provide a converging entrance for receiving the pressurised fluid (pressurised air or a combination of pressurised air and water) and a throat portion in fluid communication with the mouth 59. During use, flow of the pressurised fluid through the throat portion of the nozzle 50 increases velocity of the pressurised fluid and reduces static pressure of the fluid before exiting the nozzle through the mouth 59 and expelling the stream of pressurised fluid into the passage in a circular or a spiral pattern. The use of the nozzle 50 in the ventilating assembly 100 creates the effect of a fan without the presence of any moving blades which provides a significant technical advantage over ventilating systems known in the prior art.

A stiffening lip may be optionally added to the smaller opening of the second conical section 57 to assist with mitigating any vibration that may occur due to the pressurised fluid received into the nozzle cavity.

Optional collars/sleeves may be inserted into passage of the body 30. Specifically, the collars or sleeves may be positioned along an inner wall of the body 30. The collars or sleeves may include fluid flow directing vanes or fins positioned relative to the nozzle 50. During use, the pressurised fluid expelled by the mouth 59 of the nozzle 50 may be directed by the vanes or fins of the collars or sleeves positioned in the body 30.

The cavity of the nozzle 50 is in fluid communication with connectors 52 (including connectors 52A and 52B) for supplying pressurised fluid into the cavity of the nozzle. Referring to Figure 1A, the connectors 52 may be adapted to receive a standard threaded hose fitting for receiving pressurised fluid such as pressurised air or water. One or more connectors 52 may be provided depending upon the requirements of the ventilating application. The connectors 52 are positioned at an acute angle relative to an imaginary

longitudinal axis of the body 30 to assist with receiving pressurised fluid from supply lines L. A flow regulator R may also be provided in line with the supply line for regulating the pressure of fluid being supplied into the nozzle via the line L. The nozzle 50 receives pressurised fluid from the supply line L via connector 52 and is released from a mouth 59 of the nozzle 50 in a circular or spiral pattern.

Referring to Figure 8, the supply line supplying pressurised fluid into the nozzle 50 may be adapted for supplying a mixture of two pressurised fluids such as compressed air and liquid water. Specifically, a manifold 150 including two supply passages 152 and 154 may be provided for supplying the mixture to the nozzle 52. A first valve V1 may be provided for controlling the flow of compressed air in the first supply passage 152. Similarly a second valve V2 may be provided for controlling the flow of compressed air in the second supply passage 154. Each of the first and second supply passages 152 and 154 may supply the compressed air and water into a mixing chamber 156 before supplying the mixture into the nozzle 50. The mixing chamber 156, at one end, may be provided with a connecting mechanism for connecting the mixing chamber to connector 52 provided in the ventilating assembly 100.

The inventors believe that supplying water into the nozzle 50 via the manifold 150 allows a fine mist to be discharged with the expelling air in the passage defined by the body 30. This misting may assist with dust suppression and may therefore be utilised in areas that require a moist environment to be maintained over long periods of time.

During use, a ventilating system 1000 may be provided by inter-connecting two or more of the ventilation assemblies 100A, 100B, 100C, 100D and 100E in series by an inter-locking mechanism that allows passage of fluid between two inter-connected ventilating assemblies 100 as illustrated in Figure 9A. In the preferred embodiment, a peripheral portion of the inlet 22 and the outlet 42 of the body 30 in each assembly 100 include respective engaging portions for allowing the inter-locking of two more ventilating assemblies 100 (for

example 100A and 100B) that are connected in series as shown in the enlarged view in Figure 9B.

In the preferred embodiment, the opening of the outlet 42 forms a female connecting portion 44 that is adapted for receiving a male connecting portion 24, provided by the opening of the inlet 22. As a result, the outlet 42 in a first ventilating assembly 100A can be fluidly coupled with the inlet 22 of another ventilating assembly 100B.

It will be understood that the inlet 20 and the outlet 40 may be provided with several different combinations for achieving a fluidly coupled configuration. Therefore, in other embodiments, the ventilating assembly 100 may be provided with a male to female, male to male or female to female connecting mechanism for inter-connecting two or more ventilating assemblies depending on the application.

The ventilating assembly 100 may be constructed in different diameters depending on the requirements of the ventilating application. The length of the body 30 forming the passage may also be varied depending on the application.

The use of the ventilation assembly 100 provides several significant advantages. First, the ventilation assembly 100 does not require any movable parts such as fan blades or electrical circuitry which results in significant reduction in costs and also improves manufacturability. Secondly, the ventilation assembly 100 provides dust suppression in underground mines thereby reducing the possibility of mining workers being affected by "black lung" disease. The ventilation assembly 100 may be provided in a wide range of sizes ranging from 250mm up to 280 mm and the assembly 100 is particularly useful in underground mining environments which are confined where dust (such as coal dust) is a problem.

In compliance with the statute, the invention has been described in language more or less specific to structural or methodical features. The term

"comprises" and its variations, such as "comprising" and "comprised of" is used throughout in an inclusive sense and not to the exclusion of any additional features.

It is to be understood that the invention is not limited to specific features shown or described since the means herein described comprises preferred forms of putting the invention into effect.

The invention is, therefore, claimed in any of its forms or modifications within the proper scope of the appended claims appropriately interpreted by those skilled in the art.