New fibre optics technology lab established

The University of Queensland, in partnership with CRCMining, has opened a new Fibre Optic Sensing Applications Laboratory (FOSAL).

The lab, located in Brisbane, will utilise “emerging and cutting edge fibre optic sensing technology to develop new applications for the mining industry,” CRCMining stated.

“The researchers [will be] dedicated to transforming the mining industry through development of applications able to analyse data gathered from fibre optic sensing technology. In partnership with CRCMining, the collaboration provides a fundamental research capability driven by industry-relevant applications,” it said.

“As the mining industry adopts step changes in automation and process control the need for reliable, distributed and accurate sensing technology is growing,” the laboratory’s director Dr. Saiied Aminossadati explained.

“The collaboration with CRCMining and its member companies is extremely valuable, as it allows us to work directly with industry to identify and test applications with the capability to impact productivity, cost, and deliver outcomes through targeted research,” he said.

CRCMining program leader Scott Adam explained that as automation becomes more common throughout the resources industry and technology continues to evolve, then fibre optic technology will become more prevalent and crucial in mining operations.

“Through the laboratory we are able to build industrial applications able to read fibre optic sensing data and send reliable information back to operators. FOSAL focusses on delivering outcomes that our members are truly excited to see implemented in their mining operations,” Adam  said.

“With our links to mining companies we are able to find solutions for mining operations by using the amazing capabilities of fibre optics. We value the world leading capability of the laboratory to build new industrial applications and capability around fibre technology.”

CRCMining project leader Mohammad Amanzadeh added that by combining CRCMining’s knowledge of fibre optics and understanding of mining operations the group is already leading the introduction of photonics and fibre optic sensing technology applications for the mining industry.

UQ head of School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering, Professor David Mee said the FOSAL is an important testing facility used to develop new products for the mining industry and functions as an important educational platform for future fibre optics specialists.

The Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) is also backing the new laboratory, having previously collaborated on a number of projects with both UQ and CRCMining

A number of research projects are already underway at the laboratory, including the development an underground mine environmental monitoring system; an underground coal mine gas pre-drainage borehole monitoring system; a multipoint fibre-optic based methane gas sensing algorithm; an all-fibre methane gas sensor; a conveyor thermal monitoring system; an underground mine roof deformation monitoring system; a fibre-optic based microseismic monitoring system, and intelligent algorithms to detect and predict conveyor system failures using fibre optic vibration and acoustic sensing technology.

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