Mining Contract: Atmospheric Analysis of Refuge Alternatives

Keywords: Refuge chambers
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Contract # 08FED898354
Start Date 10/1/2008
End Date 7/31/2010
Research Concept

The goal of this research was to gain an improved understanding of allowable/safe CO2 concentrations and scrubbing methods, methods to remove CO in case of complete chamber contamination, and the effect of chamber design, occupancy, and ambient mine conditions on chamber heat and humidity.

Topic Area

Contract Status & Impact

This contract is complete.

No final report was generated for this contract. For further information, send a request to

This contract was funded as part of an interagency agreement program, which provides a formal means for federal government agencies to share and further technology that could apply to and benefit mine safety and health. OMSHR identifies other government agencies with the knowledge, skills, and abilities relevant to a health and safety gap and works collaboratively with these agencies to identify the type of technology solution desired and to determine specifications for this technology.

This contract involved three tasks:

Task 1:  Initial results, based on NASA's extensive experience in manned space craft flight, indicated that the metabolic rates used for CO2 exhalation and O2 inhalation to design, test, and approve refuge alternatives were at the high end of the range expected for this population and on the conservative side. NASA guidance on CO2 concentrations is currently 0.7% over 7 days, a situation similar to the mine refuge situation of 0.5% over 96 hours.

Task 2:  A list of potential CO scrubbing methods was generated, a protocol for testing the efficiency of these methods to remove varying concentrations of CO was developed, and test equipment was modified and tested. Laboratory scale evaluations were also completed.

Task 3:  A computer program was modified and  used to generate an analysis of heat within a refuge alternative as the exterior temperature increases. A number of parameters were adjusted, such as initial chamber temperature, mine ambient temperature, occupant metabolic rate, scrubber heat load, and chamber characteristics. Beta testing and final simulations were completed.

Page last reviewed: April 4, 2017
Page last updated: July 16, 2016