Basic Underground Ventilation Principles

Mount, William H.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 25
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
INTRODUCTION The requirements of mine ventilation demand the constant attention of the mine operator. Just as the physical mine structure changes with time, the ventilation requirements of a particular mine change considerably from season to season and even from day to day. No ventilation system can remain adequate indefinitely; and all systems require monitoring and adjustments to achieve proper ventilation. Instead of being given fore- thought and planning, mine-ventilation systems too of- ten are erected hastily, merely to correct an already un- healthy situation. The usual result is an inefficient and costly system that, in some instances, may prove in- effective in providing fresh air to the point of need. The ventilation of mines is a combination of both art and science. The fluid that must be moved is in- visible; its properties change drastically with temperature, barometric pressure, and humidity; and the methods of measurement are not precise. In part, ventilation engineering must rely upon the art of good industrial ventilation experience and sometimes even the trial-and- error method. However, the properties of air can be determined with relatively inexpensive equipment; with some care, measurement accuracies within 5% of the actual values can be obtained. Thus the art of ventilation gradually is being supplanted by improved engineering practices. Although the direction of flow and the volume may not be predicted correctly by airflow equations in every situation, it is better to try to predict the behavior of a given ventilation before installation than to proceed blindly with a system design. When used with the discretion that comes from education and experience, the basic laws of ventilation can provide sub-stantial insight into the design of an air-handling system; and they can prevent wasteful or even dangerous designs from being installed. Since the mine operators who read this text will have varying amounts of exposure to ventilation theory, the basic laws of airflow and of mechanical ventilation are presented in the first section. The emphasis has been placed on the interpretation and use of fan characteristic curves that are supplied by fan manufacturers. Considerable information can be obtained from these fan curves, particularly when they are used with a graphic model of the mine, drift, or duct in which the fan or fans are to be installed. A few minutes spent comparing the various characteristic curves can help the designer obtain the correct fan for the job. However, the under- standing of a few fundamentals is necessary; and this text has been prepared to provide ample and understandable information in a "how-to" style. In subsequent sections of this text, more down-to- earth subjects will be covered, including the problems of air recirculation, relative merits of installing fans in series or in parallel, expected maintenance requirements (vibration, lubrication intervals, etc.), fan noise and some remedies, effect of an inlet bell on the fan per- formance, basic air-measurement techniques and equipment, and similar miscellaneous items. Although this text is not intended to be a comprehensive bible of mine ventilation, it has been prepared as a guide that provides some useful information to individuals responsible for the quality of the underground environment. Every person working underground is en- titled to the safest environment that can be provided within the limitations of existing technology and at a reasonable cost. Adequate ventilation is well within both limits, provided that the system is designed intelligently, in conjunction with the mining plan, and not as an after-
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