Despite longwall mining being an efficient way of extracting coal, it produces dangerous methane gas that has the potential to lead to explosions in underground mines.
Despite longwall mining being an efficient way of extracting coal, it produces dangerous methane gas that has the potential to lead to explosions in underground mines. Researchers from West Virginia University are combatting this issue by developing an improved methane monitoring network to increase the safety of longwall mines.
Derek Johnson, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the Statler College, explained that methane gas becomes explosive when it can be found at a volume of five to 15 percent in the air, but the danger increases when the effects of methane and coal dust combine in the mine. Even if methane is found at only one to two percent in the air, it can lead to delays in the production of mining.
Longwall mining is a mining technique capable of fully extracting large panels of coal. As a longwall miner advances along a panel, the roof behind the miner’s path is allowed to collapse, according to Science Direct.
“Currently, mines use a single shearer mounted methane sensor and intermittent measurements with handheld units,” Johnson said. “A refined network of sensors will enable a proactive response to rising trends which will hopefully improve not only safety – but also productivity.”
Continue reading at West Virginia University.
Image via Paige Nesbit.