The Mass Loading Monitor -- Worker Safety and Equipment Protection in Grain Handling Facilities

Award Information
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2007-33610-18029
Agency Tracking Number: 2007-00119
Amount: $80,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2007
Solicitation Year: N/A
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
2353 Sapphire Lane, East Lansing, MI, 48823
DUNS: N/A
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Matthew Norconk
 (517) 353-9956
 norconkm@msu.edu
Business Contact
 John Foss
Title: President
Phone: (517) 355-3337
Email: foss@egr.msu.edu
Research Institution
N/A
Abstract
Dust loadings at or above the minimum explosive concentration (MEC) can lead to catastrophic loss of life and destruction of property. This proposal is to initiate the development of a mass loading monitor (MLM) that will provide a warning signal when the MEC is approached. The proposed MLM will determine the mass of dust particulates in a given air volume. The measured concentration: grams m3, will be compared with the MEC for the type of grain and the relative humidity and temperature of the surrounding air. A warning signal will be generated when the concentration exceeds a preset level (e.g., 70-80 percent of MEC). The control electronics, to be developed with the mechanical MLM, will allow these different threshold levels to trigger the warning signal. The need for such a warning device is made evident by the support letters as well as the cited statistics on grain dust explosions for the past 10 years. It is significant that the number of such explosions more than doubled (6--13) from 2004--2005. Two deaths, 11 injuries and ca. 56 million dollars in damages were reported for 2005. The lightly guarded grain mills could be exploited by domestic terrorists who would use the explosive potential to inflict far greater injuries and economic damage. Provision for the Phase III commercialization of a successful Phase II prototype has been made. The MLM units will be a robust as well as a relatively inexpensive addition to the safety equipment at the nations grain mills.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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