Oct 26, 2023

Improving Human Health and the Environment through Dust Mitigation at Mining Operations

Glycosurf Inc. and its partners at the University of Arizona received a Phase l NIEHS SBIR grant in Q4 of 2022. The grant is for R&D on a novel technology that utilizes green environmentally-friendly glycolipid surfactants to reduce dust emissions from mining operations to protect downwind areas at risk of dust emission impacts.

In 2015, ambient air pollution accounted for 4.2 million deaths and continues to be a leading contributor to the global disease burden. The mining industry accounts for 12% of global particulate matter health impacts, as mining generates dust in virtually every step of the mining process:

  • Excavating
  • Blasting
  • Stockpiling
  • Crushing
  • Grinding
  • Transport

The mineral dust presents a number of physical and health hazards that affect cardiovascular and respiratory health.

Potential Project Benefits

To help mitigate dust emissions, GlycoSurf and partners are researching a new technology using glycolipid surfactants with efficacy equal to or better than currently available products with hopes to eliminate disadvantages of current solutions. GlycoSurf’s advantages are:

  • Non-corrosive to machinery;
  • Eliminates potential risks to human health due to the non-toxic and biodegradable nature of GlycoSurf’s materials;
  • Long-term effectiveness due to the fragility of the protection layer that is less easily disrupted by environmental factors, such as strong winds.

Phase I SBIR Goal

The goal of this project is to demonstrate the commercial potential for a next generation green dust suppression technology that combines GlycoSurf's proprietary glycolipid surfactants with cellulose polymers to develop marketable dust suppression formulations for two applications:

  1. Unique formulations of glycolipids, alone and in combination with cellulose polymers, will be generated with target performance parameters suitable for tailings and unpaved road applications.
  2. These formulations will be tested for dust suppression efficacy and resistance to environmental factors such as UV radiation, precipitation, and high temperature.

The stability of glycolipid treatments will be assessed via compression testing. A stepwise testing process will be used to develop formulations that achieve a Good Air Quality Index (according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). Formulations identified with the potential for marketability will undergo field testing during Phase II research to demonstrate their ability to protect human and environmental health.  

Here you can find the NIEHS summary.

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