Remote Data Collection of NOx Emissions from Surface Mine Coal Blasts Using UAV and Evaluation of Effects on Human Health and the Environment


One of the most common emissions from detonating explosives are nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are potentially deadly if inhaled. Lab studies estimate emission quantities, though great variation is shown based on site-specific conditions, and lab tests may not fully represent field results. Field values have not been measured due to the vast area affected. OSMRE recently promised to release a ruling regarding surface mine NOx production. Once the ruling is implemented, it may eventually be necessary to monitor site-specific NOx production from blasting. A small unmanned aerial vehicle system (sUAS) is able to carry a NOx gas monitor, rapidly travel to the blast location, and to follow resulting clouds of dust and emission gasses. This project will perform laboratory tests to expand on current estimations, determine an optimal method for collecting data, and evaluate the ability for this unique application of sUAS to assist in health risk assessment for mine employees and nearby communities. Additionally, large initial NOx concentrations do not necessarily correlate to unsafe conditions, and this project will be groundbreaking in observance of surface blasting emission dispersion. The project is still in early phases at the time of submission for this paper (Nov 1, 2017). Therefore, this paper focuses primarily on summarizing background research related to the project and a description of the project plan.

Meeting Name

2018 SME Annual Conference and Expo and 91st Annual Meeting of the SME-MN Section: Vision, Innovation and Identity: Step Change for a Sustainable Future (2018: Feb. 25-28, Minneapolis, MN)


Mining Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Antennas; Blasting; Coal mines; Explosives; Health risks; Mining; Nitrogen oxides; Risk assessment; Risk perception; Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV); Detonating explosives; Emission dispersion; Laboratory test; Mine employees; NOx emissions; Optimal methods; Small unmanned aerial vehicles; Surface mines; Data acquisition

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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Publication Date

01 Feb 2018