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Explosion Hazards Of Coal Dust In The Presence Of Methane; Handbook For Methane Control In Mining
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    In This Chapter [Methane ignition as initiation source for much larger secondary coal dust explosions Rock dusting requirements to prevent coal dust explosions Dangers of hybrid mixtures of methane and coal dust] Although methane explosions are dangerous, those that involve coal dust are even more so. If exploding methane disperses and ignites the coal dust that has accumulated on the mine ribs and floor, the burning coal dust immeasurably increases the strength of the explosion. Such methane-dust explosions are prevented by inerting the coal dust in a way that prevents the exploding methane from igniting it. This chapter discusses the dust hazard and how it is pre-vented in U.S. coal mines. METHANE IGNITION AS INITIATION SOURCE FOR MUCH LARGER SECONDARY COAL DUST EXPLOSIONS The typical scenario for coal mine explosions starts with the ignition of a flammable methane-air atmosphere near the face. The turbulent winds from the primary methane explosion then disperse the coal dust. If there is insufficient rock dust (usually limestone), a secondary coal dust explosion then propagates throughout large sections of the mine. These scenarios have been studied extensively at the Bruceton Experimental Mine (BEM) and the Lake Lynn Experimental Mine (LLEM) of the NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory. The minimum quantity of methane required to initiate a coal dust explosion was studied in 1930 in the BEM [Rice et al. 1933; Nagy 1981] and then later in the LLEM, whose cross-sectional area (130 ft2) is over twice that of the BEM [Sapko et al. 1987a]. Studies conducted in the BEM closely simulated conditions that existed in operating mines in the early 20th century. The later tests in the 20-ft-wide entries of the LLEM simulated the geometries of modern mines with advanced roof support technology. The data from the BEM tests show that 13 ft3 was the minimum quantity of methane at the face that, when ignited, would disperse and ignite coal dust. In the BEM, this amount of methane was mixed with air to form a total flammable volume of about 140 ft3 of a 9% methane-in-air mix-ture. In the wider entries of the LLEM, about 37 ft3 of methane was required to disperse pure coal dust and start a self-sustained coal dust explosion. This amount of methane was mixed with

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