The Department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering's faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars are conducting new, ground-breaking research each year, and our labs and facilities are led by an advanced and knowledgeable professional staff.
Focused areas of research
The Department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering conducts groundbreaking research that is respected and utilized commercially in the mining and metallurgical industry throughout the world. Learn about the leading research conducted by the department below and visit our faculty page to filter and view faculty by research area.
MULTIFLUX is fluid flow modeling software developed at University of Nevada, Reno by Professor George Danko.
The main purpose of MULTIFLUX is to model and monitor underground ventilation systems. Implementation of smaller scale systems are currently being studied and designed to work in MULTIFLUX. There are new, innovative features being developed for the software such as thermal network modeling. These new features and smaller scale systems can be critical components to any mining operation.
The emergence of electric vehicles has been evolutionary. As the mining industry adopts modern technology, it also adopts new challenges to tackle and solve. Thermal runaway of EV batteries is one such challenge. The modeling software being developed could be used to monitor industrial electrical vehicles and their thermal output. If the software estimates a possible thermal runaway in a battery it will be able to shut the system off to prevent propagation to other electrical components. In other extreme cases, it may even be able to prevent fires from igniting within electrical components. We believe this research will be critical with the evolution of electric vehicles within the mining industry.
MULTIFLUX is also being developed to research the effectiveness of emergency equipment. Refuge chambers are used to save the lives of miners who have become trapped in an underground mine. These emergency stations are able to provide miners with 96 hours of air, water, and food. Temperature also plays a crucial role in keeping trapped miners alive. MULTIFLUX is able to model a refuge chamber as a system by modeling different heat sources and simulating airflow. With this information, the software is able to test many thermal control systems.
Dr. George Danko Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Office Phone: (775) 784-4284
For more information on current research projects, please use the contact information below to get in touch with a professor.
Dr. Behrooz (Bruce) Abbasi Email: email@example.com Office Phone: (775) 784-6907
Computer assisted excavator operation
Professor George Danko is researching and developing a modular computer system with the help of Tim Murphy that assists the operator of an excavator in moving the arm.
Manual operation of an excavator’s arm requires the independent operation of three parts; the boom, the stick, and the bucket. This motion is similar to a person’s arm that moves around three places; the shoulder, the elbow, and the wrist. People instinctively know how to move their arms as efficiently as possible. There isn’t much thought in having to reach for something; however, the arm of an excavator isn’t quite as intuitive as a part of the body. This can lead to inefficient motion of the arm as an operator might have some difficulty moving three different systems. With experience, operators can lessen the inefficiency of their motions and make smoother motions. The computer system being developed can help make operation of excavators much simpler and efficient for any operator, regardless of experience.
With the assistance of a computer, the excavator bucket can move in a specific direction while the boom and the stick move automatically and efficiently. The bucket is able to move in different motions. Even if the bucket needs to move in a parabolic motion, the boom and the stick of the machine will handle the motion smoothly. This speeds up the excavator operation, saving time and money in the long run.
Dr. George Danko Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Office Phone: (775) 784-4284
Development of a highly-portable plate loading device and in-situ deformability measurements in Nevada's underground mine
Nevada’s Underground gold and their ore zones are typically hosted in highly altered and heavily fractured weak rock masses with Rock Mass Ratings (RMR) less than 45. Empirical design methods used by ground control Engineers are augmented by finite element and finite difference methods to verify the adequacy of ground support requirements and to evaluate the effects of mining sequences. Rock mass deformation moduli are one of the most important inputs for these numerical methods; however, several deficiencies exist. In-situ measurements or high-confidence back analyses of rock mass moduli have not been performed and the validity of existing rock mass moduli prediction techniques is essentially unknown in these ground conditions. Second, these techniques tend to be insensitive in weak rock masses or require more test data than a mine’s geotechnical engineer has available. Consequently, ground control engineers tend to use intact rock moduli or simply “guesstimate” reasonable values. The goal of this project is to create a more portable, easier, and accurate system of testing deformability.
Thermo-hydro-mechanical behavior of a single fracture in porous rock
Fluid stimulation and fracture propagation in reservoirs are encountered in many engineering projects. Joint probation in rock mass with presence of other factors, such as heat flux associated with pore pressure, is a complex case. A finite element method (FEM) technique is employed to simulate the behavior of a single crack propagation subjected to mechanical, thermal, and hydraulic stimulation. The goal of this study is to better understand the presence of fluid and heat flow have significant effects on the behavior of crack and its propagation under different loading conditions.
Research is being conducted to improve the recovery of rare earth minerals. Aspects include optimization of comminution, flotation, and tailing remediation.
When mining for precious metals, it is critical for an operation to extract the most product out of the ore. One of the reasons operations would like to maximize extraction would be to also maximize profits. The more value that can be extracted from ore means that more profit is generated by the company. The research at UNR is striving to push the limits of mineral processing.
The research being conducted focuses on the feasibility of space mining through mineral processing practices.
The department is currently pushing boundaries to make space mining a possibility. Space Mining once seemed like a faraway dream, and something that would always be unattainable. It was once impossible for humans to achieve flight, or to communicate instantly across the globe. The world and its technology has evolved over the last few decades, and the day when people can mine off-planet is approaching. It takes time for new technologies and strategies to develop something incredible, something that was once that impossible. The research being done at UNR is helping bring that future into today.
Aspects in this research include designing novel mineral processing equipment and robotics for space applications. Another aspect of this research is dust control in dry and low gravity environments.
The goal of this project is to develop software to demonstrate the Froth Flotation Process in Mineral Processing through the use of virtual reality.
Virtual Reality has been used before to help students and employees learn under simulated environments. The Froth Flotation Process can be difficult to understand, but is made easier when students or employees are able to gain firsthand experience. Although it is in a simulated environment, observers are able to easily tinker with any settings of the process. This lets each person explore the process in their own unique ways. An added benefit of a simulated environment is that observers are able to play around with the simulation in a safe, risk-free environment. The purpose of this project is to help students learn as well as help companies train employees more effectively through a more interactive environment.
Hydrometallurgical processing for lithium claystones
The research being conducted is to improve the Hydrometallurgical Process of Lithium extraction of claystones.
With the growing support of clean energy over fuel based energy, the need for metals has grown and will continue to grow significantly. One of the critical metals in question is Lithium as it is a necessary component in batteries and electric equipment. This one metal is significant in the world’s evolution into a cleaner, brighter future. Currently, it seems that the world can’t get enough Lithium.
The research being done at the University focuses on achieving a higher extraction efficiency of the hydrometallurgical process of Lithium Claystones, and reducing the waste created by the process. This will make the mining of Lithium a cleaner and more effective process. The commercial production of Lithium from clays is somewhat of a recent development. As a young method of extraction, there are still many ways to improve the process. The team of researchers at the University are focused on helping the world progress to a greener future.
This research focuses on carbonation sequestration/mineralization in the mineral processing of critical minerals.
Carbon Dioxide is one of the most prevalent greenhouse gasses contributing to climate change. By reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the effects of climate change can be mitigated. It also decreases the likelihood of carbon dioxide emissions dissolving into and acidifying water sources. While the world is currently transitioning into renewable energy, it is still dependent on fossil fuels. Carbon Dioxide sequestration reduces the carbon footprint of fossil fuels and can ease the transition into renewable energy sources.
The research being conducted at the University focuses on using Carbon Dioxide to improve the mineral processing of critical minerals. The expected outcome would contribute to more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable mineral processing of critical minerals.
We are conducting collaborative research on several challenging health and safety topics such as ground failure, exposure to hazardous emissions, and collision avoidance by developing artificially intelligent tools. In this regard, with the help of our industrial partners, six major missions have been carefully chosen for the project and each individual mission aims at developing capacities in multiple emerging technological fields.