Bratton, Schafrik Named 2011-12 Henry Krumb Lecturers by SME


Robert Bratton and Steven Schafrik, two research associates in Virginia Tech’s mining and minerals engineering department, have been named 2011-2012 Henry Krumb Lecturers by the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration. The Henry Krumb lecture series was established by the society in 1966 to provide local society sections with an opportunity to hear prominent minerals professionals speak on subjects of their recognized expertise.


Robert Bratton is a senior research associate in the department and is also an industrial programs manager for the Center for Advanced Separation Technologies. He has taught mineral processing and process automation labs, authored and co-authored technical publications, delivered technical presentations and conducted and co-conducted workshops in coal processing and plant automation.

Bratton’s Krumb lecture presentation, Application of Air Table Technologies for Cleaning Indian Coal, discusses recent developments in the beneficiation of thermal coal in India, specifically the use of air table dry cleaning technologies. Dry deshaling offers significant advantages over wet cleaning operations, including reduced surface moisture, enhanced heating value, elimination of processing water and waste slurries, and reduced transportation of large amounts of ash-forming minerals. His presentation discusses results of recent testing in India which indicate that material with 80 percent ash and higher can be rejected by a deshaler unit with a combustible recovery of more than 90 percent.


Steven Schafrik is a research associate at the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research and has worked for the VCCER in numerous roles since 1997. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in mining and minerals engineering from Virginia Tech and is currently enrolled as a full-time graduate student at Virginia Tech and is expected to complete his Ph.D. in mining engineering in May 2012. Shafrik's experience includes conducting and managing research for the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Office of Surface Mining, as well as for corporations and foundations. Mr. Schafrik is also involved in support activities for the VCCER, including development of custom software and information systems support.

Schafrik’s Krumb lecture presentation, Wireless Mesh Communication Systems Optimization in Underground Coal, examines the development and introduction of tracking and communication systems installed in underground coal mines in the US and discusses VCCER’s newly developed models of wireless signal propagation. The current mine propagation modeling software—COMMS—can locate potential broadcast points for underground wireless mesh systems and estimate their coverage. The program approximates spatial relationships encountered in underground coal mines such as ventilation regulators, belts and other obstructions, and allows for optimal communications node locations. The result is the ability to optimize a mine’s communication network, which allows for the creation of a pre-installation mine network design map, the creation of coverage maps of the mine, and facilitates planning for future communication activities.


Related Links

Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research

Center for Advanced Separation Technologies