Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dusty Old Bones.(Company overview).

Dinosaur, originally uploaded by InfoMofo.
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Clearing the air in a dinosaur excavation laboratory

Nate Murphy is dedicated to his passion and profession of paleontology but he didn't want to literally 'live and breathe' his dinosaurs. So he went digging for a solution and found a better way to prevent himself and his crew from inhaling particles of ancient dinosaur dust generated during the excavation process.

Murphy is the founding director of the Judith River Dinosaur Institute (JRDI) ( ) and curator of paleontology at the Phillips County Museum - both located in Malta, MT. Founded in 1992, JRDI collects dinosaur specimens for display at the museum and also raises funds for the museum's Paleontology Department by offering field programs where ordinary citizens can participate in dinosaur digs. In fact, teams of JRDI volunteers - which include people from every walk of life - have found some of the best dinosaur specimens in North America.

Introducing Leonardo

One of the most exciting projects currently underway at JRDI centers around the remains of a bracylophosaurus dubbed Leonardo. According to the 'Guinness Book of Records,' the world's 'best preserved dinosaur remains' are none other than Leonardo's. His bones were discovered by a JRDI team in July 2000 and Leonardo has been a beloved subject of scrutiny in the scientific community ever since. Since that time, JRDI teams have uncovered many awe-inspiring pieces of Leonardo, including an imprint of the scales that once covered his body and remains of food in his stomach.

For anyone who has observed paleontologists in action, it's easy to see why effective dust collection is so important. During the excavation process at JRDI, for example, large chunks of Leonardo's bones and fossilized soft tissue are brought into the lab. Paleontologists carefully brush and even chip away at the dirt and cement-like pieces of earth that cling to the rare specimen. This creates fine particles of dust that are lightweight enough to stay suspended in the ambient air.

Field Dust vs. Lab Dust

Of course, professionals like Murphy are no strangers to dirt and dust. He has spent the past 30 years leading or participating in dinosaur digs in the U.S., Canada, South America and Mexico. He has also been a consultant for the U.S. government, public museums and documentary film groups such as PBS, BBC, The Discovery Channel and The Learning Channel. Hunting for dinosaurs is a dry and dirty job - but the dust found at the dig sites is quite different than the tiny particles released into the air during the tedious process of chipping away at specimens in the lab.

Murphy affirms, 'The dirt around Leonardo chips into very small particles ... really very fine.' But without effective dust collection and filtration technology, these tiny particles are an unwelcome (and unhealthy) part of the discovery process.

Let's Clear the Air

After Leonardo was brought into the lab, Murphy noticed that their shaker-type dust collector could not adequately keep up with the volume of dust created in the JRDI lab. It was a small unit that collected dust from the ambient air in the entire room. To find a solution, he turned to Donaldson Co. Inc., a global leader in filtration solutions.

After considering all of the factors in JRDI's uniquely challenging application, Donaldson recommended its highest-performance dust collector: a Donaldson Torit[R] Downflo[R] Oval (DFO) with Ultra-Web[R] nanofiber filters. The collector was configured with three hooded extraction arms, which each paleontologist positions above his work area to capture dust directly at the source. The DFO is on casters so the crew can easily move it from one lab area to another, wherever it's needed.

According to Donaldson Torit[R] Product & Engineering Director Paul Kojetin, the Ultra-Web[R] filter media is engineered and manufactured with patented processes that have evolved over the last 25 years into the optimum filter media. He comments, 'Ultra-Web[R] nanofiber media efficiently captures the very small particles (sub-micron), as well as the larger particles. It arrests particles as small as 0.3 micron, primarily on the surface of the media, so the filter substrate does not become prematurely plugged. That means the breathing air in Murphy's lab is cleaned more thoroughly. And, Ultra-Web[R] filters are designed to have twice the filter life of other standard filter cartridges.'

The dust collector JRDI had was a shaker style. When the gauge indicated the filters were full, Murphy could manually press a button to trigger a shaking of the bags that would knock some of the dust off the filters. One of the features Murphy says he likes about the new DFO is that it cleans itself. He simply sets the control for four inch w.g. (differential pressure or IP) and a valve blasts clean air back through the cartridge-style filters to blow dust off. Because the filters are made with Ultra-Web[R], much of the captured dust stays on the surface of the filter and can be more easily cleaned off. This helps the filters last three times longer than Murphy was used to.

Murphy says he is extremely happy with the cleanliness of the air in the JRDI lab. Much of the improvement is due to the hooded extraction arm on the dust collector. 'We used to wear coveralls when working on Leonardo. Now, with the Ex-Arm™ hood right at the point where dust is created, we no longer need to cover ourselves,' Murphy says. 'The dust is sucked up into the hood immediately.'

Murphy and his team at the institute are also seeing some of the benefits and advanced capabilities of this next-generation filter media. 'The Ultra-Web[R] filters, with their fine web of nanofibers over a thicker substrate, are designed to capture the tiny, tiny particles, yet allow strong airflow. They really work!' Murphy adds, 'We no longer have layers of dust over everything in the lab. No bones about it - our lab is the cleanest it's been in years!'

Exploration Station

In May 2003, JRDI opened a Dinosaur Field Station ( ), complete with a state-of-the-art fossil preparation laboratory. Visitors to the Dinosaur Field Station can enjoy guided tours and view the latest discoveries including Leonardo, Roberta and the new Jurassic dinosaurs, Giffen and Ralph. They can also learn about fossil preparation techniques and what's new in the world of dinosaur science.

The Phillips County Museum ( ), not far from the JRDI Dinosaur Field Station in Malta, is the 'official repository' for the artifacts JRDI teams have uncovered over the years. In addition to dinosaur displays, visitors to the museum can also see exhibits about the Native Americans, pioneers and homesteaders who once made their homes along Montana's rugged landscape.

To learn more about the Judith River Dinosaur Institute and the Phillips County Museum or to apply for a spot in a JRDI exploration program such as the 2009 dinosaur dig in the Montana Badlands, visit


Source Citation
"Dusty Old Bones." Design News 63.17 (2008): FP5. General OneFile. Web. 12 Feb. 2011.
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