Mining Publication: A Fail-Safe Control System for a Mine Methane Pipeline
The Bureau of Mines has designed and put into operation a fail-safe control system for use in underground coal mines equipped with methane drainage pipelines. This control system can detect certain unsafe conditions and respond by automatically shutting off the flow of methane from the degasification borehole to the drainage pipeline. Methane flow is shut off when the methane content in the return airways reaches a predetermined level (typically 1.5 pct), when the methane drainage pipeline is ruptured by roof fall, or when there is an electric power failure. The fail-safe control system was designed using commercially available components and a methane analyzer system previously developed by the Bureau. The fail-safe system consists of a unit that combines a shutoff valve and pneumatic valve actuator, and electronic and mechanical equipment designed to detect hazards and effect shutdown. The fail-safe control system was designed to meet regulatory requirements for the same operation of underground methane pipelines used for mine degasification. MSHA has inspected and tested this system and permitted its use in two mines.