PSU invents Flexz Blast, natural rubber cone that seals mining blast holes for greater efficiency

psu issue6 03

       PSU researchers invented Flexz Blast, a natural rubber cone that seals holes drilled for mining explosives, thus increasing explosion efficiency, while also reducing production costs and environmental impact. The project won a competition in the first batch of Natural Rubber Startup Acceleration Program, organized by the Rubber Authority of Thailand in collaboration with PSU. The innovation also received a runner-up award in the Rubber Innovation Contest organized by the Rubber Authority of Thailand, alongside a runner-up award at the PSU Innovation Contest. The research project was carried out by a group of PSU rubber technology researchers together with mining engineering researchers in the private sector.

       Flexz Blast is an innovation of cross-industry product development concept. The natural rubber cone is highly flexible, shaped just right to cover the entrance of blast holes used in mining engineering. The innovative product increases explosion efficiency and reduces the environmental impact of rock blasting. The natural rubber funnel plugged into the blast hole prevents explosive reaction gas from leaking out of the blast hole. As a result, negative effects of the explosion are minimized, and the direction of the explosion can be controlled. Up to 40% smaller stones are obtained, which saves energy and time in the subsequent step of stone crushing.

       In addition, the use of Flexz Blast to seal the blast hole was found to reduce vibration by up to 48%. The environmental impact of vibration is a critical issue in quarrying, especially in mines in proximity of communities, tourist attractions, and ancient sites. At present, testing is carried out in ten different types of quarry stones in the northeastern and southern regions of Thailand. Flexz Blast is produced and distributed by Issara Global Technology and Service Co., Ltd.

       Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ekwipoo Kalkornsurapranee, Director of the PSU Rubber Research and Development Institute, explained that the project is a result of collaboration of researchers from the Rubber Innovator Camp by the Rubber Innovation Research and Development Institute, which was held in April 2018 at Deevana Plaza Hotel Aonang, Krabi.

       The project resulted in various product prototypes and product design patents. Subsequently, Issara Global Technology and Service Co., Ltd. has applied for the right to use the research results for commercial development. The project then obtained funding from the “Open Innovation” project, National Innovation Agency (Public Organization), the Technology and Innovation Support Program (ITAP), and the National Science and Technology Development Agency, to develop and expand commercial production.

       Dr. Nattaphon Uthaiphan, project leader, revealed that the camp gathered a group of four researchers to use rubber material to solve problems in mining engineering. The team immediately received a research scholarship from the Institute of Rubber Innovation. After that, the team has patented the resulting product, which is being used in the mines in the northeastern and southern region of Thailand.

       The four researchers in the aforementioned group are: Dr. Nattapon Uthaiphan, lecturer at the Engineering and Rubber Technology (International Program), International College, Hat Yai Campus; Asst. Prof. Dr. Sakulrat Pichaiyut, lecturer at the Rubber Technology Department, Faculty of Industrial Science and Technology, Surat Thani Campus; Mr. Wikhanet Damkhong and Mr. Pongsiri Julaphong, lecturers of the Department of Mining and Materials Engineering, Hat Yai Campus. Funding for prototype para rubber product research and development was received from the Para Rubber Innovation Research and Development Institute, Prince of Songkla University.






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