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Strength Characteristics and Air-Leakage Determinations for Alternative Mine Seal Designs
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  • Description:
    The U.S. Bureau of Mines and the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) are participating jointly in a research program to evaluate the strength characteristics and air-leakage resistance of various proposed seal designs for use in underground coal mines. The full-scale seals were constructed in the USBM's experimental mine at the Lake Lynn Laboratory, air-leakage tested, then subjected to pressure pulses of 20 psig or greater. In experiments prior to this study, seven seal designs using solid-concrete blocks were tested. Only the standard-type seal passed the explosion and air-leakage criteria. Tests also were performed on four seals constructed with low-density foam blocks. All four of these seal designs withstood the pressure pulse. In more recent studies, nine cementitious foam seal designs of varying thicknesses and densities were investigated. Six of the nine designs successfully survived the explosion overpressures. Six wood-block convergence seals also have been tested. The typical 3-ft-thick, wood-block seal design currently used in many coal mines did not maintain its integrity, in the absence of convergence forces, following the explosion test. Five modified wood-block seals successfully withstood the 20-psig pressure pulse. Based on these tests, three alternative seal construction materials, cementitious foam, low-density foam block, and wood, have been approved by MSHA for use in underground coal mines.

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