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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.

Projects & Contracts

TitlePIsStart DateDescription
Engineering Design for Mine Fire Prevention and Atmospheric Monitoring SystemsLiming Yuan10/1/2011A project to develop engineering data to improve knowledge of mine fires and their interactions with mine ventilation networks; atmospheric monitoring systems; and fire, prevention, detection, and suppression systems.
TitleContractorContract/IAG #Start DateDescription
A Wearable Multivariable Sensor for NO2 and CO DetectionGeneral Electric200-2014-593959/1/2014A contract to design composite sensing materials to develop a sensor that is sensitive to carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide at the desired concentrations but is not affected by the interferences present in mines.
DPM Research: Monitoring Responses to Ventilation and Control by Water Sprays, and Capacity Building for Mine Ventilation ExpertiseVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State University200-2014-596469/1/2014A capacity-building contract focused on the use of ventilation in controlling diesel particulate matter (DPM) levels, particularly in the context of challenging mining conditions.
Integration of Sensing Technologies for Post-Event Monitoring of Hazardous Conditions in the Mining EnvironmentSenSevere200-2014-592539/1/2014A contract to provide detection of ambient conditions in lesser traversed, remote areas of a mine by way of a repeater system with sensing modules capable of linking into the existing, hardened communications and tracking system.
Numerical Modeling of Gas Emissions and Cave Ventilation in Block Caving MinesSouth Dakota School of Mines & Technology200-2014-596139/1/2014A capacity-building contract focused on developing practical mine ventilation engineering tools for safe and effective massive underground mining operations.
Personal Air Safety System (PASS)International Electronic Machines Corporation200-2014-587539/1/2014A contract to provide miners with real-time alerts to potentially harmful air contaminants if a dangerous threshold of either immediate or timed exposure is detected.
TitleContractorContract/IAG #Start DateDescription
Best Practice Review of Atmospheric Monitoring Practices for Fire and Explosion Prevention Using Tube Bundle SystemsDepartment of Natural Resources and Mines (SIMTARS)200-2013-569499/23/2013A contract to assess the benefits of implementing tube bundle technology into the US mining industry and identifying the logistical barriers and operational aspects considered for deployment.
Communication and Hazard Monitoring in Bleeders and Remote WorkingsKutta Technologies200-2012-536249/20/2012A contract to extend communication and hazard monitoring into bleeders or other remote workings in an active underground coal mine.
Method for Improving Ventilation & Gas Monitoring with an Advanced Fiber Optic Based Mine-Wide Monitoring SystemRSL Fiber Systems¬†200-2012-525158/24/2012A contract to create an advanced mine-wide distributed monitoring system utilizing a low power intrinsically safe fiber optic backbone for improving ventilation and gas and temperature monitoring in underground mines. The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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