FRAS (Fire Resistant and Anti – Static) Product for Underground Mines

13 December 2019

Without beating around the proverbial bush, FRAS (Fire Resistant and Anti-Static) products in underground mines are those that minimize dangerous site ignitability hazards. The products described here only serve to prove one hard fact: There can be no gambling, no wagering with what are essentially high-risk work conditions here, not when lives and limbs are at stake. FRAS products, therefore, exist to prevent flame propagation events, to basically fireproof mines and to minimize the electrical build-ups down there that could cause an explosion.

Reviewing FRAS Issues in Underground Mines

Let’s use a coal mine to highlight the hazards found down here, although any mining installation could trigger a fire threat. If anthracite and bitumen are exposed in a mine chamber, it’ll likely produce a fine black mist. Of some concern, this is a solid fuel. It’s not as combustible as some gaseous fuels, but it will ignite if the conditions are right. Besides, coal mines can also release pockets of methane. In fact, any mining facility can unlock a chamber full of methane. Bad enough, this “Firedamp,” this potentially explosive mixture is floating around, but it’s also contained, trapped in an underground mine’s many subterranean chambers, where workers are going about their business. By adding static to the already highly volatile mix, the whole installation begins to resemble a closed-in tinder box.

Anti-Static and Anti-Flame Propagation Solutions

FRAS products are essentially made from large rubber sheets, although they’re also sometimes die-cut into smaller, thinner strips as well. The rubber acts as a sheath for exposed metal surfaces, pipes, equipment frames, and all manner of underground mine apparatus. The goal is to insulate and isolate conductive parts, to prevent static build-up and to fireproof flammable materials. If a situation occurs where a spark could be generated, fire-retarding FRAS rubber minimizes the accumulation of static electricity. Moving onto FRAS-rated gear, composite pulley linings and conveyor skirts can be used to illustrate another example of a FRAS safe equipment build. This time, instead of layers of rubber sheeting blanketing a pipe or vent duct, special rubber composites are fabricated as integral equipment components.

There are also FRAS rated screening decks and belt scrapers. Steel-reinforced crushers and vibratory pans use FRAS materials as well. Of some benefit here, the anti-static materials also function fairly well as impact dampening surfaces, so they protect underlying steel surfaces from high-velocity aggregate loads. Up higher, above the equipment lines, anti-static and flame resistant plastic meshes function as mine ceiling guards. They line ceilings and walls. Indeed, high-functioning FRAS mechanisms line every conceivable underground mine assembly, including the ventilation ducts that work tirelessly to extract that ignitable coal dust.