Canadian Mining Journal


INNOVATION: Ennomotive challenge looks at dust solutions

Mine site Credit: Ennomotive

Mine site Credit: Ennomotive

CHILE – Ennomotive, an engineering innovation hub, has presented results from an open challenge aimed at finding solutions to the problem posed by the presence of dust in various work environments.

This particular problem can be found in mining and other heavy industries where a high-concentration of dust becomes hazardous for the workers.

In this context, monitoring these particles is vital to take corrective actions and prevent risks. Internet-of-things (IoT) devices represent a potential solution to this problem.

While there are devices in the market designed to monitor air quality in urban settings, they only measure low-level dust concentrations. Their sensors are not robust enough to operate under industrial conditions.

Ennomotive launched an open innovation challenge to look for solutions to the challenge presented by dust. This process ruled out existing commercial solutions due to their lack of robustness, weak reliability or precision issues.

During this process, 43 participants participated in the challenge. Six startups also proposed an adaptation of their technologies.

As a result, three innovative solutions were selected using the following technologies:

  1. Autonomous laser interferometer technology with a sensor-cleaning system. This would utilize edge computing for local alert-management data processing.
  2. A combination of LED-based sensor and broadband photodetectors. This solution would entail automatic calibration of the receive paths with mathematical processing.
  3. The development of a new sensor based on light scattering, whereby an Arduino board converts measurements into intensity relations and sends them to a central server as concentrations.

The first three prototypes were evaluated on a site based on measurement quality, maintenance, autonomy, data transmission and the like. The result was a more robust prototype that combined the strengths of the three previous technologies.

As a result of this challenge, it was possible to design and evaluate different technologies, prototype and test them in a record time of five months. Open innovation has proven to be a very efficient tool in accelerating the development of new products.

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