Use of Auxiliary Fans for Mining Purposes

Meakins, William D.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 13
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
INTRODUCTION Today, auxiliary fans, or boosters as they are sometimes called, are commonly used underground to provide ventilation for safe working conditions for personnel. Fans are installed in many ways and for many purposes; however, their use falls into three main categories depending upon the application. Auxiliary Face Ventilation For Coal Mines Usually the application of auxiliary fans underground in coal mines presents problems not normally encountered in other types of mining. Two of the major problems deal with liberation of methane at the coal face and the production of coal dust in the mining process. For these conditions it is necessary to use permissible (explosion-proof) type of equipment. As a result, these fans are discussed in a category by themselves. Auxiliary Fans For Tunnel and Drift Ventilation Tunnels and drifts present unique ventilation requirements. For instance, tunnels and drifts can be developed for considerable distances into virgin territory. Since they are generally dead-ended, the only way to obtain ventilation at the face is to use ventilation pipe to establish one leg of a ventilation circuit. The ventilation of tunnels and drifts therefore falls into another natural category. Other Uses of Auxiliary Fans For Mining Purposes Fans can be applied to mining applications in many ways other than those discussed under the other two categories. For example, many times auxiliary fans can do a much more practical job of proper air control and distribution that can be achieved with any other mechanical means; therefore, these other uses are discussed as a special category. AUXILIARY FACE VENTILATION FOR COAL MINES After 1936, federal and state coal mining laws prohibited the use of auxiliary underground fans in coal mines since such equipment had been widely misused. In certain cases, recirculation of face air had been allowed to occur thereby creating a serious potential explosive hazard by the possible buildup of excessive methane concentrations. By the late 1950s, mining machines with rapid face penetration were commonly being used in coal seams which liberated higher quantities of methane than in earlier years. As a consequence, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the use of auxiliary face fans was again allowed under strict experimental conditions because conventional methods of face ventilation control without fans were becoming inadequate. Today, auxiliary face fans are widely used under strict federal and state control. Such auxiliary ventilation does not reduce the need for the amount of primary air from the main mine fans; however, it does help to distribute primary air more efficiently at the face. The present trend is toward an exhaust system of ventilation utilizing 406- to 610-mm (16- to 24-in.) diam tubing extending from the face to an outby auxiliary fan. Since the tubing is normally applied with negative pressure, spiral wire reinforced tubing has been replaced largely with metal and, more commonly, fiberglass tub¬ing. Additional auxiliary blower units are often used at the mouth of the room being developed, or installed on the miner or loader near the face, depending upon the amount of gas liberation present. Often one (or more) of the fan units is equipped with an integrally mounted hopper and feeder which automatically adds a continuously metered amount of rock dust to the exhaust air. The combination unit tends to make the mixture of discharge particles noncombustible and reduces to some extent the need for additional rock dusting of return airways. In this part of the chapter, typical auxiliary ventilation systems are described including curves and photograph of typical/applicable equipment. Reference will be made to "blowers" and "ex¬hausters." Both are fans and are basically the same units. They take on their name through the manner in which they are used. A blower usually has an inlet bell on the inlet side to help to obtain good air flow into the blades. An exhauster often has a discharge cone added to reduce the discharge loss. Any basic fan unit can be used either as a blower or an exhauster. Description of Auxiliary Ventilation Systems Several auxiliary ventilation systems and modifications of basic systems have evolved over recent years. Some of these systems are described and illustrated. System No. 1, an exhaust system for faces with comparatively low gas liberation, is shown in Fig. 1. Here
Full Article Download:
(1273 kb)