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Technical | Ventilation  >  Mechanical

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Furnace ventilation was used quite extensively in the first half of the 19th century, but as collieries were sunk deeper and the workings became more extensive the inadequacies of this technique became more and more apparent and means of providing mechanical ventilation capable of providing higher levels of airflow began to be developed. Various reciprocating and rotating designs were tried but  the centrifugal was fairly quickly recognized as the most effective.

The first successful ventilation fan to be developed which could circulate large volumes of air was the Guibal and this was soon followed by the Waddle. Both these fans rotated relatively slowly at between 30 - 50 rpm and in order to circulate large volumes of air they themselves had to be large. As their dimensions increased to cater for the ever growing demands of mine ventilation, the mechanical stresses occurring when rotating such large structures created considerable difficulties and inevitably imposed a limit to their size.

One of the difficulties facing fan designers in the mid-19th century was the lack of high speed drives for the fans. Rotational speeds could be increased by increasing the ratio of the driving pulleys but this was far from an ideal solution. When compact, high-speed engines with pressurised lubrication became available towards the end of the century, a number of smaller alternative designs were produced. These were “closed” type centrifugal fans with a fixed housing around the fan and required a suitably shaped discharge chimney to achieve their output. Amongst these new generation fans were the Capell and Walker both of which were to be used at Pleasley.

Improvements to the design of the Waddle fan led to a reduction in size and with the application of high-speed drives their throughput increased considerably and when  the Stanton Ironworks Co. sank the Bilsthorpe colliery in the mid 1920s, a Waddle fan driven by a Bellis & Morcom engine was installed there.

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