Longwall USA International Exhibition and Conference, June 8-10, 1993, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Aurora, CO: Maclean Hunter Presentations, Inc., 1993 Jun; :175-184
The Bureau of Mines performed a study to determine optimal locations for longwall face methane monitoring equipment. Longwall face ignitions continue to be a concern to the U. S. coal mining industry. Gains in ignition control technology have been somewhat negated by advances in longwall productivity. More reliable, heavy-duty longwall face systems generate higher production rates and increase methane liberation rates. These rates will likely continue to rise in the future as further coal production increases occur. Efforts will continue in the areas of methane drainage, methane containment, and methane dilution. In addition, more effective face methane monitoring is needed. As technology continues toward automated longwall panels, the importance of monitoring for methane at the shearer becomes even more significant. Since the primary face ignition source is the shearer mining machine, the Bureau ran tests to determine the best location to take methane readings on the shearer. This information, in conjunction with data obtained from field studies, provides a knowledge base for selecting optimum face methane monitoring locations. INTRODUCTION Face ignitions are a concern for many U. S. longwalls and will continue to be until better control technology can be developed or until reliable and accurate knowledge can be provided as to when an explosive concentration is present. Figure 1 shows the number of reported U. S. underground longwall ignitions from 1980 to 1990. The number of longwall panels have remained relatively constant over this time period with 89 reported in 1980, compared to 96 in 1990. In spite of technological improvements in mining over the past decade, no significant reduction in the number of longwall face ignitions has occurred. One factor contributing to this is that the U. S. coal industry is mining gassier seams causing methane liberation rates on the average to be higher (Trevits, 1991; Grau, 1987). Another factor is the development and implementation of more reliable, heavy-duty longwall face systems that are generating higher production rates and higher methane liberation rates. Additionally, the average panel width in 1991 was 714 ft; a 44 pct increase from 1980 when faces averaged a width of 495 ft (Merritt, 1992). Increases in panel width also impact total face methane emissions. There have been substantial advances in control technology in the areas of methane drainage, methane containment, and methane dilution. In some mines, efforts to drain methane in advance of mining have proven effective, but geological conditions often preclude this approach (McCall, 1984; Ely, 1989). In other cases, ventilation air quantities of over 100,000 ft3/min and face velocities of over 1,000 ft/min have been implemented on longwall panels. Other operations have implemented anti-ignition spray systems which use water sprays behind each cutting bit to quench the hot streaks created from cutting noncoal materials (Courtney, 1990). Other control techniques, such as the modified shearer clearer system and ventilated drum, have been used to increase the amount of turbulence and ventilation around the cutting drums, thus reducing methane levels (Cecala, 1986; Divers, 1987).
Longwall USA International Exhibition and Conference, June 8-10, 1993, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania