Before Harry Heydorn joined material-handling company MinTech, he worked as an engineer for a major coal-fired power utility company, where he faced a plague that became his business to eradicate: dust.
Every day, workers at the power plants moved coal out of the piles and conveyed it through the plant where it was crushed into a powder and then burned. They transferred tens of thousands of tons of coal an hour on conveyor belts moving 45 miles an hour, generating clouds of dust at every transfer point, and every time it was ground or pulverized.
Uncontrolled, most sources of dust in plants and mining operations lingers in the air, and is breathed into the lungs of workers, causing them major health problems such as silicosis and the infamous black lung disease.
“The main reason we’re eliminating and reducing dust is for the people, whether it’s the operators making the product, or somewhere downstream where there may be a transfer, or where they’re transloading materials, all the way down to the end users and any communities who could be affected,” Heydorn says.
With proper precautions, silicosis, black lung, and other dust-caused diseases are almost entirely preventable, and to that end, OSHA and the EPA have each created standards for dust control. Despite increased awareness and regulations regarding dust-caused lung disease, rates of black lung disease are higher today than they were 50 years ago, when miners and doctors pushed through the creation of the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969.
Besides causing health problems for workers, dust also works its way into machinery, parts, joints, and more, where it can damage equipment and raise costs of maintenance over time. The dust control agents MinTech manufactures and applies reduce the amount of airborne dust by up to 97% and are used in a variety of applications from coal and gypsum to grain and wood pellets.
MinTech recently launched MinTerra™, a new and unique line of dust control solutions for the fertilizer industry, which like the coal industry, must manage the levels of dust created by material handling processes in order to protect workers and communities alike.
“We have incredibly diverse experience combatting dust across a wide variety of materials, and we developed MinTerra to combat issues specifically found in the fertilizer industry,” says MinTech Chief Executive Officer Julian Mohr, Jr.
MinTech produces three OMRI Listed® dust control and binding products to meet increased demand among businesses for dust control in organic applications from farming to fertilizer production.
“Organic growers, processors and livestock producers trust OMRI when sourcing products and often times even non-organic businesses in the agricultural field prefer an OMRI Listed product over one that isn’t because the products tend to be safer and more environmentally conscious,” says West Gary, MinTech’s Chief Technical Officer.
“We treat every customer and their dust problems as separate cases because every facility and process has uniquely different conditions,” Gary says. “While the conditions may vary, the principle that we apply to all dust control applications is the same: Use lab testing to determine the best chemical solution and application rate, perform on-site testing to determine the best application point and method, and then service that equipment regularly to make sure performance is always meeting our customer’s needs.”
MinTech’s chemists figure out what combination of chemistry and application works best for a company’s particular type of dust. “Then we make sure it’s compatible with whatever product they’re producing, whether they’re producing a fertilizer, food products, coal, sand or salt,” Gary says. “We do all of the performance and compatibility testing in our labs at no charge. Our chemists provide detailed reports to our customers, providing peace of mind that the dust control products we apply will work seamlessly with the products and processes at their facility.”
MinTech’s marquee MinTerra products that are OMRI Listed are DustAid Natural L, DustAid Natural S and MicroBind Natural L.
DustAid Natural L is an all-natural, biodegradable, lignin-fortified dust control and binding agent. Lignosulfonates bind the dust particles to the larger fertilizer granules and when water evaporates from the polymer, the dust particles remain trapped by the high-viscosity, naturally sticky material.
DustAid Natural S is the only non-lignin-based dust suppressant to be listed by OMRI and uniquely doesn’t require heating to use.
MicroBind Natural L is used to evenly bind micronutrients to fertilizer pellets to increase crop yield. It is also used with other OMRI Listed dust suppressants made by MinTech.
“One of MinTech’s core tenets,” Heydorn says, “is challenging the status quo, and with these OMRI Listed solutions we are doing just that.”
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(Featured Photo ID: MinTech Chief Technical Officer West Gary.)
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