Joint funding has been announced for a project to develop a polymer-based alternative to steel mesh sheet reinforcements in underground mines.
One million dollars in funding from chemical company BASF and the Australian Coal Association Research Program has been allocated to prototype the sprayable, fast-acting solution at the University of Wollongong.
Development of the steel mesh substitute, which replaces the need to manually lift and install mesh in underground coalmines, has previously been supported since 2007 by ACARP.
“Because the product can be spray-applied, ToughSkin is expected to generate significant improvements in safety, development productivity and effectiveness in the roadway development support cycle,” sMatthew Ross, Global Head of Underground Construction Chemicals, BASF SE, said in a statement.
According to a March 2009 presentation of the technology, the spray-applied reinforcement sets in seconds and can be bolted through, in fire resistant and anti-static, and creates no toxic emissions or irritation during application.
It will be trialled in Australia, but the product would be internationally relevant if successfully developed.