Coal safety researchers rewarded

By Jessica Brown, @BrownJessicaJ

An SIU coal safety research team has been nationally recognized for their development of a spraying system that reduces the amount of breathable dust in coal mines.

The Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration has given its Health and Safety Research and Educational Excellence Award to Harrold Gurley, Yoginder Chugh and John Pulliam, researchers in SIU’s Department of Mining and Mineral Resources.

A year and a half ago, Chugh, Pulliam and Gurley were nominated for the award by Joe Hirschi, project manager of the Illinois Clean Coal Institute.


They received letters informing them at the end of December.

The group’s product underwent a lengthy evaluation process before being determined as the winner. The nominations are assessed from July 1 to Oct. 1, and then must be approved by the executive committee of the society. 

“The evaluation process is fairly stringent,” Chugh said.

He said the nomination form submitted is a substantial document at about 15 to 18 pages. The form reviews the product’s technology, whether the product is being commercialized or not and gathers comments from members of the coal industry.

Several coal companies including Peabody Energy, Alliance Coal and Knight Hawk, are familiar with the group’s spraying system. All companies provided the team with letters of support.

National distribution of the product is a goal for the team, which works with companies from Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky, Gurley said. The award will help them achieve this.

“Our name and recognition is a marketing tool,” Gurley said. “It couldn’t hurt, that’s for sure.”


A private award ceremony will be held for the research team at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Alumni Lounge of the Engineering Building.

Jessica Brown can be reached at [email protected]