Mechanical 9 - Silica Analyzer

Student Team: Nate Murphy, Courtney Quinn
Advisor: Brent Fales
Sponsoring Organization: NIOSH
Liaison: Dr. Arthur Miller

    The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is assessing technologies capable of quantifying the mass of silica in coal dust deposited on filter material. The student team has been tasked with conducting a sensitivity analysis of a few different infrared spectroscopic techniques, choosing the most viable option for silica quantification, and exhaustively testing the chosen technology for silica quantification. The students must also choose a technique that is capable of quantifying silica in coal dust deposited on filters used in a Personal Dust Monitor (PDM) – a NIOSH developed technology to quantify the mass of coal dust in real time. The team has conducted preliminary testing on transmission, attenuated total reflectance, diffuse reflectance, and infrared fiber optics, and concluded that diffuse reflectance is the most viable option and the best suited to handle filters used in the PDM. The team proved that silica mass can be quantified in coal dust using industry standard filter material and pursued the quantification on PDM filters. The findings will be reported to NIOSH in the form of a draft journal article that researchers at NIOSH can then publish.


502 E. Boone Avenue
Spokane, WA 99258-0026
Phone: (509) 313-3523
Fax: (509) 313-5871

Dr. Stephen E. Silliman
Phone: (509) 313-3522