Title:
MINING MACHINE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A mining machine (20) inclu ding a launch vehicle (11) which drives an auger flight (21). The extremity of the Auger flight (21) is a cutter head (22). An inert gas is delivered to adjacent the cutter head (22) by a tube (50). The cutter head (22) is also provided with a ground penetrating radar antenna (42) as well as a microwave transmitting/receiving device (47) which transmits and receives microwave signals for the purposes of controlling the cutter head (22) and transmitting information gathered by means of the antenna (42).



Inventors:
Seear, Peter Kenneth (FRANKLIN, PA, US)
Application Number:
09/407099
Publication Date:
09/20/2001
Filing Date:
09/27/1999
Assignee:
SEEAR PETER KENNETH
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
175/76, 299/30, 299/31, 299/68, 299/87.1, 405/143
International Classes:
E21B10/44; E21C25/58; E21C35/24; E21D9/12; (IPC1-7): E21C35/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
KRECK, JANINE MUIR
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LADAS & PARRY LLP (1040 Avenue of the Americas, NEW YORK, NY, 10018-3738, US)
Claims:

The claims defining the invention are as follows:



1. An auger mining machine, said machine including a cutter head and an auger flight attached to the cutter head, said cutter head including: a cutter head body; a cutter drum mounted on a forward end of the body; and wherein said machine further includes: internal duct means extending from a rear portion of the flight to near the cutter drum for the delivery of a gas to adjacent the cutter drum.

2. The machine of claim 1 wherein said ducting means includes a tube extending through each flight, with adjacent ends of adjacent tubes being connected for the ducting of said inner gas.

3. The machine of claim 2 wherein said ducting means includes branch tubes adjacent said cutter head for the deliver of the inner gas to adjacent the cutter head.

4. A cutter head of an auger mining machine that forms a mine tunnel in a seam, the cutter head being adapted to be rotatably driven about a longitudinal axis of the head to form the tunnel, and wherein the head includes a ground probing radar antenna that rotates about said axis for the purposes of examining the seam surrounding the tunnel.

5. The cutter head of claim 4 further including a transmitted device, operatively associated with the antenna to transmit electromagnetic signals to a location remote from the cutter head.

6. The cutter head of claim 4 or 5 further including a gas sensor operable to produce a signal indicative of a gas level in the tunnel.

7. A cutter head of an auger mining machine, said cutter head including: a hollow body; a cutter drum mounted on a forward end of the body; steering means mounted on the body and actuable to aid in steering the cutter head; motor means to cause movement on the steering means; and means to receive and respond to an electromagnetic signal to cause operation of said motor means to aid in directing said cutter head.

8. The cutter head of claim 7 wherein said steering means including a steering skid mounted on the body for movement in a direction which is generally transverse of the cutter head and adapted to slidably engage internal surfaces of a tunnel being formed by the cutter head.

9. The cutter head of claim 8 wherein said skid is ring shaped so as to generally surround said body.

10. The cutter head of claim 9 wherein said motor means are hydraulic cylinders extending between said body and said skid to cause relative movement therebetween.

11. An auger mining machine having a cutter head and a following auger flight, said cutter head including an electric motor, and wherein said machine further includes a source of electric power, for said motor, contained within the cutter head auger flight, said source being adapted not to receive electric power from an external means during mining operation of the machine.

12. The auger mining machine of claim 11 wherein said power source is at least one battery.

13. The cutter head of claim 12 wherein the means to generate electric power is an alternator mounted so as to be generally displaced from an axis about which the machine rotates.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The present invention relates to augers employed in mines and more particularly, but not exclusively, to coal augers used in conjunction with rotating cutter heads.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Coal augers have been used for the purposes of mining coal for many years. The coal is drilled from a coal seam by means of a rotating cuter head. The coal is then conveyed to the portal of the auger hole by helical screw conveyors (auger flights).

[0003] Previously known coal augers have not provided a means by which the cutter head could be accurately located, for the purposes of directing the cutter head. A further disadvantage is the vulnerability of the cutter head and augers to fire, roof collapse and explosions due to the ignition of methane gas within the mine tunnel.

OBJECT OF THE INVENTION

[0004] It is the objection of the present invention to overcome or substantially ameliorate at least one of the above disadvantages.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] There is firstly disclosed herein an auger mining machine, said machine including a cutter head and an auger flight attached to the cutter head, said cutter head including:

[0006] a cutter head body;

[0007] a cutter drum mounted on a forward end of the body; and wherein said machine further includes:

[0008] internal duct means extending from a rear portion of the flight to near the cutter drum for the delivery of a gas to adjacent the cutter drum.

[0009] There is also disclosed herein a cutter head of an auger mining machine that forms a mine tunnel in a seam, the cutter head being adapted to be rotatably driven about a longitudinal axis of the head to form the tunnel, and wherein the head includes a ground probing radar antenna that rotates about said axis for the purposes of examining the seam surrounding the tunnel.

[0010] There is further disclosed herein a cutter head of an auger mining machine, said head including:

[0011] a hollow body;

[0012] a cutter drum mounted on a forward end of the body;

[0013] steering means mounted on the body and actuable to aid in steering the cutting head;

[0014] motor means to cause movement of the steering means; and

[0015] means to receive and respond to an electromagnetical signal to cause operation of said motor means to aid in directing said cutter head.

[0016] There is still further disclosed herein an auger mining machine having a cutter head and a following auger flight, said cuter head including an electric motor, and wherein said machine further includes a source of electric power, for said motor, contained within the cutter head and/or auger flight, said source being adapted to not receive electric power from an external means during mining operation of the machine.

[0017] In the above machine, preferably the source of electric power includes at least one battery, and the motor is used in steering the cutter head.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0018] A preferred form of the present invention will now be described by way of example with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

[0019] FIG. 1 is a schematic side elevation of a prior art coal mining machine extracting coal from a coal sham;

[0020] FIG. 2 is a schematic side elevation of a coal mining machine embodying the present invention, mining coal from a coal seam;

[0021] FIG. 3 is a schematic sectioned side elevation of the cutter head of the machine of FIG. 2;

[0022] FIG. 4 is a schematic part sectioned side elevation of an auger flight employed in the machine of FIG. 3;

[0023] FIG. 5 is a schematic sectioned side elevation of the forward portion of the auger flight of FIG. 4;

[0024] FIG. 6 is a schematic sectioned side elevation of the rear portion of the auger flight of FIG. 4;

[0025] FIG. 7 is a schematic sectioned side elevation of the coupled end portions of adjacent auger flights;

[0026] FIG. 8 is a schematic perspective view of the steering mechanism of the cutter head shown in FIG. 3; and

[0027] FIG. 9 is a schematic side elevation of the electric motor and pump employed in the machine of FIG. 2.

DESCRIPTION OF PRIOR ART

[0028] In FIG. 1 there is schematically depicted a prior art mining machine 10. The machine 10 includes a launch vehicle 11 which drives a plurality of auger flights 12. The forward end of the auger flights 12 is provided with a cutter drum 13. Coal removed from the seam 14 by the drum 13 is conveyed along the mine tunnel 15 by the auger flights 12, to be delivered to the tunnel opening 16 wherefrom the coal is conveyed to further transportation means. To inhibit explosions and fires, an inert gas is delivered via a conduit 17 to the mouth of the tunnel 15 in the direction of the arrow 18. The inert gas is drawn into the tunnel 15 to replace the coal conveyed out through the opening 16. Excess gas flows rearwardly in the direction of the arrow 19 to exit from within the tunnel 15. In mines in which methane gas levels are low, the inert gas can be replaced with air. Essentially, the inert gas or air flushes the tunnel 15. The launch vehicle 11 rotates the: auger flights 12 about the longitudinal axis 19, so as to also cause rotation of the cutter drum 13, also about the longitudinal axis 19.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0029] In FIGS. 2 to 7 there is schematically depicted an auger mining machine 20. The machine 20 includes the launch vehicle 11. The launch vehicle rotatably drives a plurality of auger flights 21:,with the flights 21 being coupled to a cutter head 22 by a lower (battery flight) flight 60. The vehicle 11 also provides an axial force to advance or retract the flight 21 and head 22. The cutter bead 22 includes at its forward end, a radially inner cutter drum 21 and a radially outer cutter drum 24. The cutter drums 23 and 24 are mounted on the hollow body 25 of the cutter head 20.

[0030] The hollow body 25 includes a portion 26 which is attached to the next adjacent auger flight 21 by means of a projection 27 which is generally square in cross section.

[0031] Mounted on the portion 26 by means of bearings 28 is a steering saddle 29 which supports a ground engaging steering skid 30. The slid 30 is ring shaped and is attached to steering cylinders 31. Pivoted links 81 inhibit axial movement of the skid 30 which might otherwise accrue as a result of frictional engagement with the mine tunnel. By moving the skid, 30 radially relative to the saddle 29, the rear of the body 25 can be raised and lowered alternating the direction of travel of the cutter head 22 if so required. Hydraulic fluid under pressure is delivered to the cylinders 31 to cause relative movement between the skid 30 relative to the saddle 29. The skid 30 engages the tunnel wall 32. Transverse horizontal steering is achieved by the same method.

[0032] Electrical power required by the electronic apparatus (including computer 34 and microwave transmitter and receiver device 47) is provided by the batteries 64.

[0033] Microwave signals generated by the device 47 are transmitted rearwardly through the passage 45 in the projection 24, with the microwave signals exiting from within the housing 34 by means of a microwave comms window 46. Aligned with the window 46 is a conduit 63 which provides for the transfer of signals. Microwave signals also travel in the opposite direction through the passage 45 to be received within the body 34 for the purposes of controlling the delivery of hydraulic fluid to the cylinder 31, More particularly, a microwave signal generating and receiving device 47 is located within the housing adjacent the window 47. The on-board computer 34 is connected, to the device 47 and controls the delivery of hydraulic fluid under pressure to the cylinders 31, from a pump 36. Thus, the cutter head 22 can be directed from a location remote from the machine 20,

[0034] The slip rings 44 provide for the transfer of signals to the valves 82 to activate the valves 82. The pump 36 is driven by electric motor 83, which receives power from the batteries 64. The position of the cutter head 22 is determined by the use of a ring laser gyro 84. Having regard to its position, the cutter head can then be directed in its movement by operation of the skid 29.

[0035] The pump 36 and motor 83 are located within a flame-proof enclosure 95 which includes a hollow box-like base 96 closed by a lid 86 by means of threaded fasteners 87. Located within the enclosure 95 is a hydraulic fluid reservoir 87. To eliminate voids within the hydraulic fluid within the reservoir 87, there is provided a flexible bladder 88 filled with nitrogen. The bladder 88 changes in volume to accommodate variations in the amount of hydraulic fluid contained in the reservoir 87. The pump 36 draws hydraulic fluid from the reservoir 87 by means of a hydraulic line 89. Hydraulic fluid under pressure is delivered to the cylinders 31 via a high pressure hydraulic line 90. Located within the line 90 are sintered plugs which inhibit the transmission of flame along the hydraulic lines. Electrical cabling 95 passes through cable glands in the end wall 93 again to inhibit flame propagation. A return hydraulic line 94 returns hydraulic fluid from the cylinders 31 to the reservoir 87.

[0036] In FIG. 4, one of the auger flights 21 is more fully depicted. Each auger flight 21 includes an outer sleeve 48 to which there is attached a helical member 49.

[0037] Within the sleeve 48 are two concentric tubes 50 and 51, between which there is located an annular passage 52. An inert gas is delivered to the passage 52 to be ducted to the cutter head 20, The passage enclosed by the tube 51 receives the microwave signals passing between the device 47 and electronic apparatus within the launch vehicle 11. The sleeve 48 is attached to a forward coupling member 53 which engages the rear coupling member 54 of the next adjacent auger flight 21. The coupling member 53 is square in transverse cross-section and slideably receives a radially movable pin 55. The pin 55 is, moved radially by use of a pivot lever 56. The pin 55 is received within a passage 57 formed in the rear coupling member 54. By movement of the pin 55, the flights 27 may be coupled or uncoupled.

[0038] The inner tube 51 is provided with a seal 58 which engages the tube 51 of the next adjacent flight 21. Similarly, the coupling member 54 is provided with a seal 59 which couples the outer tubes 50.

[0039] Coal is transported rearwards from the cutter drums 23 and 24 by auger blades 60.

[0040] The auger flight 60 is similar in construction to the flight 21 except that it is modified to receive a bank of batteries 64 which receives electric charge when removed from within the tunnel. The concentric tubes 50 and 51 are diverted about the batteries 64 as is illustrated. The tube 51 is aligned with the conduit 63 so as to provide for the transfer of microwave signals therebetween. The tube 50 terminates adjacent the cutter head 22 and delivers the inert gas to a plurality of branch tubes 41 which direct the inert gas toward the cutter drums 23 and 24. As coal is removed, the inert gas is drawn into the newly formed tunnel portion.

[0041] Mounted in the body 25 so as to rotate therewith is a ground probing radar antenna 42 provided for the purpose of examining the seam surrounding the tunnel formed by the machine 20. The antenna 42 is connected to the computer 34 so that information can be conveyed from the computer 34 via the device 47 to an operator remote from the machine 20. For example, the antenna 42 could be used to detect features such as a coal/rock interface, air pockets or adjacent tunnels.

[0042] With the use of the device 47 an operator remote from the machine 27 can control its direction by dispatching microwave signals to the device 47.

[0043] Preferably the cutter head has a gas sensor which detects, for example, levels of methane and delivers a signal indicative thereof to the computer 34. A signal is then generated and sent by the device 47 so that methane levels can be monitored from outside the tunnel 15.