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Optical Detector Measures Volatility of Coal Dust

Photonics Spectra
Mar 1998
Mine operators have long had to keep a close eye on the buildup of coal dust in underground mines. Too much of the combustible dust could lead to an explosion.
A group of researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Pittsburgh has begun work on a handheld optical probe that could provide immediate readings on the amount of coal dust present in a mine. A light-emitting diode in the probe emits near-infrared radiation. When the meter is inserted into the dust mixture, the infrared radiation reflects off the dust's surface and back to a silicon photodiode in the optical module.


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