Mining Program Area: Atmospheric Monitoring and Control
Atmospheric Monitoring Systems (AMS) can be used to provide real-time information on concentrations of methane and oxygen, air velocities, and CO or smoke levels at strategic locations within underground mines. This information can then be used to produce alerts and alarms for excessive methane levels, inadequate oxygen levels, unexpected changes in ventilation air velocities, or the occurrence of fire. Research in this program area is intended to assess the reliability and adequacy of these systems to provide early-warnings for dangerous and hazardous conditions, such as fires within conveyor belt entries. The research also seeks to integrate the AMS sensor data with mine ventilation algorithms to provide real-time, interactive prediction and assessment of detected hazards, such as fire or excessive methane. The results of this research will provide mine workers with reliable tools to enhance their safety and their response to uncontrolled events.
In the research relevant to this program area, a state-of-the-art AMS has been purchased and installed in the Safety Research Coal Mine (SRCM) located in Bruceton, PA. The sensors used for this system will be tested and evaluated for their response to developing fires and their ability to measure changes in ventilation air velocities. The measured air velocities will be compared to velocities calculated on the basis of CO and smoke transport times between sensor locations. The SRCM layout has also been programmed into the mine ventilation software MFIRE 3.0, and the contaminant transport times measured during actual experiments will be used to assess the predictive capability of the ventilation software and, if need be, to make refinements in the code. In addition, MFIRE3.0 will be installed on the AMS computer, and the sensors will be interfaced with the software to provide a dynamic, real-time, interactive system. The bulk of the research to be performed is part of an in-house research project specified below. In addition, research will be conducted via contract to assess the practicality and feasibility of using fiber optic systems for methane detection and early detection of elevated temperatures along conveyor belt entries.