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Effective Solutions for Coal Stockpile Dust Control

Effective Solutions for Coal Stockpile Dust Control

Justin Rollin

Coal stockpiles at power plants and storage facilities can generate significant amounts of dust emissions, creating health hazards, environmental issues, and higher maintenance costs. Effectively controlling dust from coal piles is essential for improving air quality, ensuring regulatory compliance, protecting worker health, and enhancing community relations.

This article explores some of the most effective methods for coal stockpile dust suppression and gives you an overview of our top dust control products at Ninja De-Icer to help prevent dust issues.

The Dangers of Coal Dust

Coal dust particles pose numerous risks if not properly controlled. Airborne dust can contribute to respiratory issues in workers and nearby residents, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Coal dust is also combustible, and uncontrolled coal oxidation in stockpiles can result in spontaneous combustion and fire hazards. In addition, fugitive dust emissions can lead to fines for non-compliance with air quality regulations. Effective dust suppression is necessary to mitigate these hazards — and we’ve got just what you need to tackle the issue with ease.

Chemical Suppressants for Reducing Dust Emissions

Various chemical dust suppressants can be highly effective at controlling stockpile dust emissions. These products work by binding fine particles together, increasing surface tension, and reducing dust's ability to become airborne. Some commonly used chemical suppressants include:

Calcium Chloride

A hygroscopic product that attracts moisture from the air to the coal surface, calcium chloride is highly effective for dust control even in low-humidity environments.

Dowflake™ Xtra calcium chloride flakes from Ninja De-Icer can be mixed into stockpile spray water or applied directly to the coal surface for long-lasting dust suppression. With approximately 10% more calcium chloride than conventional 77% calcium chloride flake products, DOWFLAKE™ Xtra offers greater pound-for-pound dust control performance than magnesium chloride, other calcium chloride formulations, or other materials.

Its higher concentration of calcium chloride increases the product's effectiveness and value by reducing handling, storage, transportation, and packaging costs.


Mineral Well Brine

A naturally occurring liquid produced from underground salt caverns, mineral well brine has a high calcium chloride content that makes it effective for dust control.

Ninja De-Icer offers mineral well brine liquid that can be sprayed onto coal piles to form a crust and prevent wind erosion. This high-powered liquid calcium chloride is popular for its ability to pull moisture from the ground and air to bind aggregates and effectively control dust emissions.

To ensure safe operations with proper visibility, promote pile stability, and reduce maintenance costs, Mineral Well Brine is an eco-friendly, cost-effective choice for dust suppression at coal power plants and storage facilities.


Other Products

Other chemical dust suppressants such as magnesium chloride, lignin sulfonate, and organic polymers can also be effective depending on the specific application and coal properties. Surfactants may also be added to suppressants to help the product penetrate and spread on the coal surface.

The most appropriate dust control product depends on site-specific factors such as the coal type, pile size, weather conditions, and equipment available. Working with an experienced provider like Ninja De-Icer can help in selecting the optimal product and application strategy for your power plant's unique challenges.

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Moisture Addition Methods for Dust Reduction

One of the most common ways to reduce dust emissions from coal stockpiles is through moisture addition. By keeping the coal surface damp, the release of fine dust particles into the air is greatly minimized, helping suppress dust. There are several methods for adding moisture:

  • Water sprays: A network of water sprays or sprinklers can be installed around the perimeter of the coal pile. These sprays periodically wet the surface of the pile to maintain optimal moisture content for dust suppression. Chemicals can also be added to the spray water to enhance its effectiveness in certain situations.
  • Water cannons: Water cannons are a more targeted way to add moisture to specific areas of the pile, such as those exposed to more wind or where dust is observed. The high-pressure water stream reaches further than sprinklers to cover a larger area.
  • Spray trucks: For smaller stockpiles or those without a permanent spray system, water trucks equipped with spray cannons or nozzles can be used to periodically dampen the pile surface.

The goal of moisture addition is to raise the moisture content of the coal surface to an optimal level, typically around 6-8%. However, excessive moisture must be avoided as it can lead to handling issues and potentially increase the risk of spontaneous combustion in some coal types. So, water might not be the best choice for dust reduction. Striking the right balance is key for effective dust control.

Other Methods of Controlling the Dust

In addition to moisture applicant and chemical suppressants, other practices can help minimize dust from coal stockpiles and prevent dust issues:

  • Pile shaping: Properly grading and compacting coal storage piles and avoiding steep slopes reduces wind erosion and dust generation. Piles should also be oriented with the smallest dimension facing the prevailing wind direction. This method helps suppress dust at the source.
  • Windbreaks: Constructing windbreaks or wind fences around coal stockpiles helps reduce wind speed at the pile surface, minimizing the amount of dust that becomes airborne. Windbreaks can be made of various materials such as wood, metal, or geotextiles. They are an effective solution for many dust control situations.
  • Protective coverings: For smaller piles or short-term storage, full or partial coverings made of tarps, geotextiles or hard shells can protect the pile from wind exposure and precipitation. Coverings also help maintain consistent moisture content throughout the pile.
  • Transfer point control: Dust emissions often occur when coal is moved, such as during unloading, stockpiling, and reclaiming. Using enclosed transfer points, chutes, and skirtboards at drop points helps contain dust. Water sprayers, foggers, or other dust collection/suppression systems should also be employed at transfer areas.
  • Vegetation: Planting tall vegetation such as trees around the perimeter of coal storage areas can act as a natural windbreak and help filter dust particles from the air. This method also improves the visual appearance of the site.

An effective coal dust control strategy typically uses a combination of methods that are tailored to the facility's unique layout, operations, coal properties, and environmental conditions. Implementing multiple approaches provides the most comprehensive solution.

The Benefits of Proper Dust Control

Investing in effective coal stockpile dust suppression provides numerous benefits for power plants and storage facilities:

  • Improved worker health and safety: Reducing airborne dust particles creates healthier working conditions and lowers the risk of respiratory disease in coal handlers and other personnel. Fewer dust-related health issues lead to a more productive workforce.
  • Environmental compliance: Meeting air quality and opacity regulations helps avoid fines and penalties. Minimized dust emissions also reduce the environmental impact on the surrounding community. Proactive dust control helps power plants stay in compliance and maintain good community relations.
  • Operational efficiency: Uncontrolled dust can cause excessive wear on conveyors, crushers, and other coal handling equipment, leading to premature repairs and unscheduled downtime. This can significantly increase maintenance costs. Effective dust suppression helps keep equipment running smoothly.
  • Better community relations: Minimizing the spread of dust and other emissions to neighboring areas helps coal operations maintain a positive image and avoid complaints or pushback from local residents. Being a good neighbor is essential for the long-term viability of any industrial facility.
  • Lower maintenance costs: By reducing the amount of fugitive dust that accumulates on equipment, plant structures, and nearby properties, effective suppression helps lower cleanup and maintenance costs. This offsets the investment in dust control measures.
  • Enhanced safety: Proper stockpile dust control reduces the risk of coal dust explosions and minimizes dangerous stray emissions in process areas. A safer workplace benefits everyone.

Choose Packaged & Bulk Salt for Dust Control with Ninja De-Icer!

Managing coal dust throughout the material supply chain — from mines to shipping to end use — is a complex challenge. However, the proper design and implementation of a site-specific coal dust control plan provides substantial rewards in terms of worker safety, environmental protection, operational efficiency, and your bottom line. The right combination of methods and products to prevent dust can make all the difference.

For over 15 years, the team at Ninja De-Icer has been helping operators in the coal, power, and other bulk material industries implement effective, full-service dust control solutions. With our proven products and methods, we deliver complete solutions to suppress fugitive dust emissions and prevent airborne particles from causing problems. To explore how we can help your facility reduce coal stockpile dust emissions challenges, check out our products and get in touch with us!