Freudenberg S.A.F.E.air secures ISO-compliant pressurization and filtration in mining vehicles

Freudenberg Filtration Technologies‘ advanced filtration solution supports operator health and overall functionality of mining vehicles

Freudenberg Filtration Technologies has devised the Freudenberg S.A.F.E.air filtration solution to reduce airborne respirable contaminants and CO2 levels in mining vehicle cabins, fulfilling the ISO 23875 requirements for safe heavy equipment cabins. FreudenbergS.A.F.E.air helps improve operator safety and equipment integrity in a challenging workplace: mining work and related activities with high particle exposure can compromise operator health or damage crucial equipment components.

To a large extent, the world’s economy thrives on resources from considerable depths: coal, rare earths and iron ore serve as raw materials for many industries but require extensive mining before they can be processed further. Given the consistently high demand for those materials, the mining sector to this day has seen considerable growth, with the revenues of the 40 most important global mining companies totalling 656 billion U. S. dollars in 2020.

As crucial as mining is, as challenging are the industry’s working conditions: from asbestos to silica, contaminants can enter the cabins of mining vehicles like haul trucks, wheel loaders and bulldozers, either through air vents or via the operators themselves. Other than causing severe health effects, contaminated air can damage mining vehicles, leading to premature mechanical and electrical breakdowns.

Meeting ISO 23875 requirements

“Ensuring the health and safety of vehicle operators, as well as the functionality of mining equipment is of utmost importance, and a challenge we readily took on” says Stephen Gledhill, Manager Segment Mining at Freudenberg Filtration Technologies. Effective operator protection requires cabin pressurization and filtration as stipulated by the international norm ISO 23875. According to ISO 23875, fresh air supply and/or air recirculation must keep concentrations of particulate matter below 25 micrograms per cubic meter, while maintaining pressurization and CO2 limits: the minimum sustained pressurization inside operator enclosures is 20 Pa, and 200 Pa at most. CO2 concentrations must not exceed the ambient CO2 plus 400 ppm (parts per million). The standard CO2 present in the earth’s atmospheres lies between 250 to 500 ppm.

Freudenberg S.A.F.E.air for safe operations

Reducing contaminants and keeping CO2 concentrations within pre-scribed limitation calls for a versatile solution: Freudenberg Filtration Technologies has devised Freudenberg S.A.F.E.air, a multi-stage filtration solution for ISO 23875 compliant cabin pressurization and filtration. The Freudenberg S.A.F.E.air system comprises two pre-cleaning filters as well as two high-flow HEPA filters for particle separation. The two pre-cleaning elements protect the HEPA filters from heavy dust exposure and ensure longer filter life.

Freudenberg S.A.F.E.air reduces airborne contaminants in mining vehicle cabins in accordance with the ISO 23875 requirements.

Air entering the Freudenberg S.A.F.E.air system first passes through a cyclonic dust ejection system that filters out heavy dust particles (>5 µm), before the second pre-cleaning filter takes care of coarse dust particles (1-5 µm). Two stages of HEPA filters then eliminate 99.995% of sub-micron particles, achieving a full cabin air exchange within 20 seconds. In addition to filtration of outside air entering the cabin, Freudenberg S.A.F.E.air also draws and filters air from within the cabin, ensuring cabins are dust free according to ISO 23875 requirements.

The HEPA-filtered air re-enters the vehicle cabin via the air vents into the occupants’ breathing zone while also allowing some air to escape the system for fresh air exchange. Thus, Freudenberg S.A.F.E.air provides hospital grade air at ambient CO2 levels and further continuously monitors CO2 levels inside the vehicle and remotely via telemetry. This is essential because high CO2 levels are a major concern of miners due to its association with fatigue and drowsiness and its association with accidents.

A solution for low maintenance

In addition, the Freudenberg S.A.F.E.air system delivers a constant minimum required pressure of 100 Pa, preventing any contaminants from entering the cabin from outside, for example through worn door seals. Thanks to the limited dust ingress, the system provides protection to air-conditioning components like fans and evaporators, abolishing premature failure due to contamination. “Besides reliably protecting operators, Freudenberg S.A.F.E.air also reduces the maintenance of electrical cabinets and control rooms, saving mining companies cost-intensive vehicle downtime and maintenance costs,” Gledhill concludes.

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