One of the problems arising from the use of modern machines and systems in coal mining is increased emission of explosive gases into the mine passageways. Interest in degasification of coal seams has grown. The authors summarize the results of coal permeability tests done at Virginia Polytechnic Inst. on one of the fundamental aspects of the problem.
There are undoubtedly many factors that affect the emission of gas from coal but the permeability of coal to gas flow would seem to be fundamental. However, there is very little information on coal permeability to gas flow available in the U.S. at the present time, despite the fact that such knowledge would appear to be significant in any degasification effort. Studies made recently in the mining engineering laboratories at Virginia Polytechnic Inst. have determined values of permeability on 1-in. cubes of selected coals.
The permeability values given in this paper are based on adaptations of Darcy's law formulated by Henry Darcy in I856 from experiments with fluid flow in porous media.' Using air as the gaseous fluid, they were obtained by employing similar methods as are used to dete1:mine the permeability of petroleum and gas reservoir rock specimens.
Permeability is. a measure of the ease with which fluids flow through a porous substance, and it is governed by the connected pores within a porous medium. If a few large-sized pores, fractures or channels are present within the medium, the medium can have great permcnability without significant porosity. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that the permeability of coal, due to its structure, is based on fractures connecting the pore space left as the result of some degree of devolatilization or other changes of the substance from which coal was formed. The results of this irvestigation tend to validate this assumption in that the values obtained indicate a close relationship between the rank and permeability of coal.
COALS TESTED AND PROCEDURE
The coals whose permeability values were determined in this investigation are given in Table I.