Mining Publication: Experimental Mine and Laboratory Dust Explosion Research at NIOSH
This paper describes dust explosion research conducted in an experimental mine and in a 20-L laboratory chamber at the Pittsburgh Research Laboratory (PRL) of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The primary purpose of this research is to improve safety in mining, but the data are also useful to other industries that manufacture, process, or use combustible dusts. Explosion characteristics such as the minimum explosible concentration and the rock dust inerting requirements were measured for various combustible dusts from the mining industries. These dusts included bituminous coals, gilsonite, oil shales, and sulfide ores. These full-scale tests were conducted at the Lake Lynn experimental mine of NIOSH. The mine tests were initiated by a methane-air explosion at the face (closed end) that both entrained and ignited the dust. The laboratory-scale tests were conducted in the 20-L chamber using ignitors of various energies. One purpose of the laboratory and mine comparison is to determine the conditions under which the laboratory tests best simulate the full-scale tests. The results of this research showed relatively good agreement between the laboratory and large-scale tests in determining explosion limits. Full-scale experiments in the experimental mine were also conducted to evaluate the explosion resistance characteristics of seals that are used to separate non-ventilated, inactive workings from active workings in a mine. Results of these explosion tests show significant increases in explosion overpressure due to added coal dust and indications of pressure piling.