Evaluation and Design of Atmospheric Monitoring Interfaces and Approaches for Improved Health and Safety in Underground Coal Mines

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Virginia Tech


A majority of underground coal mine disasters in the United States are due to explosions. Current atmospheric monitoring system (AMS) practices in the US could be enhanced to facilitate data sharing and learning of the entire work force. With the inclusion of additional atmospheric monitoring and data collecting, meaningful analysis can be realized and shared with the workforce. AMS data can be utilized to advance the understanding of underground atmospheres for the entire workforce along with adding to the knowledge base for preventative planning. An AMS interface ADAMAS is suggested to facilitate this conglomeration and sharing of the data visually, so that it can be quickly processed and applied in their daily decisions.

An emerging sensor technology for underground mining, fiber optics is explored and tested in emergency, or fire and explosion situations. The fiber optic methane sensor performed well in smoke only showing a slow in response time due to soot on the filter.

The ADAMAS interface was tested in a large population of underground coal miners. The population varied in age, job, classification, and experience. They all primarily found it to be easy to use and helpful to them. Concerns arose when asked how this will facilitate an improved relationship with regulatory agencies. There is trepidation when it comes to additional atmospheric information sharing, that it may not be used advance understanding of mine atmospheres. The AMS data collected is individual to each mine site but can assist in the understanding of underground atmosphere as a whole. Moving forward, regulatory bodies should use this as a stepping point to consider how this information can be used to advance the field of mine ventilation and also the health and safety of the miner.



underground mining, ventilation, interface, atmospheric monitoring, AMS, Fiber optic, methane