Mining Publication: Use of CFD Modeling to Study Inert Gas Injection into a Sealed Mine Area
Since the promulgation of the MINER Act and the follow-up changes to the regulations governing mine seal construction and maintenance, mine operators must be acutely aware of the atmosphere in sealed mine areas and prepared to deploy control technologies when the conditions are warranted. On Site Gas Systems in Newington, Connecticut was awarded a contract by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to construct a novel in-mine nitrogen (N2) generation plant using pressure swing adsorption (PSA) technology. PSA technology utilizes carbon molecular sieve material and pressure to adsorb oxygen (O2) molecules while allowing N2 molecules to pass through the sieve material. The prototype PSA unit was tested at the NIOSH Safety Research Coal Mine (SRCM) where a 62,000 ft3 area of the mine was rendered inert during a series of two tests. The resultant data were then used to construct a CFD simulation of both injection tests. In addition, O2 depletion and gas leakage rates were quantified in the model and were compared to actual values. Once the model was calibrated, the sealed mine area was doubled and simulations were made with various injection rates and injection site locations to determine the impact on the time needed to render this area inert. This paper presents an overview of the PSA plant, the details of the gas injection tests and CFD modeling work.