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Battelle Mine Barrier Survival System and Thumper Acoustic Signaling System Featured at National Mine Rescue Show

Posted on Oct 4, 2011


COLUMBUS, OH., 4 October, 2011—As the nation’s mine rescue experts gather in Columbus Oct. 3-6, Battelle staff will join them with innovative, life-saving mining technologies it hopes could become standard equipment for miners.

More than 110 teams from around the U.S. are expected at the four-day gathering, where the highly trained rescue teams will compete in simulated mining disasters to determine who can rescue and deliver first aid to miners trapped in life-like disaster scenarios.

The intent is to hone rescue skills, learn from other emergency response personnel and ultimately improve the likelihood that miners will survive when faced with disastrous explosions or collapses. It is sponsored by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and takes place at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

According to statistics from the MSHA, mine safety in the United States has seen great improvements over the years, but industry experts strive to do more. In 1931, there were more than 1,600 fatalities in the industry and in excess of 94,000 injuries. In 2010, there were 71 fatalities and more than 8,300 injuries.

Participants in the contest can view the latest in mine rescue technologies such as the two innovative solutions developed by Battelle, the world’s largest independent research and development organization. They are:

  • The Mine Barrier Survival System (MBSS): A light-weight inflatable shelter that provides refuge and a habitable atmosphere for days until help arrives. Designed by Battelle’s chemical, mechanical and mining engineers in consultation with industry experts, the system uses affordable commercial off-the-shelf technologies in a novel way. It uses a unique air scrubbing system that mitigates threats such as toxic levels of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, flammable methane and reduced levels of oxygen.
  • “Thumper,” a Miner Acoustic Signaling and Locating System: Modern-day miners who are trapped underground still have no better way to communicate that they are alive than miners of 100 years ago who used sledgehammers to pound on rails. Battelle, along with Pacific Scientific Energetic Materials Company and GeoSonics/Vibra-Tech, Inc. developed the repeatable pinger which is based on military technology. It generates 10 times the energy that a healthy man with a sledgehammer could create when striking a rail to help rescuers pinpoint his location. It is a gas driven device and can reliably continue sending seismic signals for 10 straight days, when reloaded once a day. It is envisioned to be a last-resort system when other means of communication have been destroyed.

About Battelle

As the world’s largest independent research and development organization, Battelle provides innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing needs through its four global businesses:  Laboratory Management; National Security; Health and Life Sciences; and Energy, Environment and Material Sciences. It advances scientific discovery and application by conducting $6.2 billion in global R&D annually through contract research, laboratory management and technology commercialization. 

Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Battelle oversees 22,000 employees in more than 130 locations worldwide, including eight national laboratories for which Battelle has a significant management role on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the United Kingdom.

Battelle also is one of the nation’s leading charitable trusts focusing on societal and economic impact and actively supporting and promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

Media Contacts

For more information contact Katy Delaney at (614) 424-7208 or, or T.R. Massey at (614) 424-5544 or



Media Contacts

Katy Delaney
Director, Media Relations
Office: 1.614.424.7208

T.R. Massey

Senior Media Specialist
Office: 1.614.424.5544