There are several well-known, extensively researched and tested methods of suppressing a coalmine methane and coal dust explosion. The choice of method used is dependent on the legislative requirements of each country, which in turn are influenced by mining conditions in that jurisdiction. For example, seam gas content and the dustiness of the coal will combine to create the hazard, while the physical and chemical properties of the seam might influence the possibility of ignition sources such as frictional ignitions. The mining method and layout will also influence the choice of preventative or proactive suppression devices. The decision as to which method is approved and adopted should be based on currently tested and available technology and the latest research outcomes, and should be subjected to a rigorous risk assessment, since a methane explosion propagating into a coal dust explosion cannot be countenanced.
Every new technology must undergo stringent tests and these tests must be certified by accredited research facilities or laboratories. Upon approval, an explosion suppression system or the critical components of such a system should be tested in a more realistic environment. This environment can ideally be found in an operating underground mining section for evaluation purposes. Based on the insight gathered in such an environment, a realistic evaluation of the effectiveness of a potential system can be carried out. The explosion suppression system described in this paper has been tested on numerous occasions at accredited test facilities. The technology described in this paper has been used in various applications in underground coalmines and has been adapted to fulfil and exceed the requirements set out for methods currently in use. This paper describes the underground evaluation results of the latest technology in active suppression systems as used on continuous miners was adopted to perform as a roadway explosion barrier.
Spaeth, A, Belle, B and Phillips, H, 2017. Underground bulk sampling, uniform conditioning and conditional simulation – unrealistic expectations?, in Proceedings Australian Mine Vent Conference 2017, pp 197–202 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).