Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc.
Transactions home

  SME FaceBook SME Twitter SME LinkedIn RSS Feed

Comparing tracer gas sampling methods in underground mines using solid-phase microextraction (SPME) fibers

Mining Engineering , 2011, Vol. 63, No. 6, pp. 109-114

Patterson, R.; Jackson, K.; Luxbacher, K.; McNair, H.; Boggess, R.


 Tracer gas sampling methods are useful for monitoring ventilation systems, especially in remote or inaccessible areas, and can be utilized for analysis of the ventilation system immediately following a mine emergency. However, the success of this technique is largely dependent on the accuracy of release and sampling methods. Analysis of sampling methods is crucial for rapid response and dependable results during emergencies. For the purpose of this study, four well-accepted sampling techniques currently used in the mining industry were compared using solid-phase microextraction (SPME) fibers with sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), an industry standard, as the tracer gas. Current sample collection techniques include plastic syringes, glass syringes, Tedlar bags and vacutainers. SPME fibers are used in a variety of industries, from forensics to environmental sampling, and are a solventless method of sampling analytes. To analyze these sampling methods, samples were taken from a 0.01% standard mixture of SF6 and nitrogen and analyzed using electron capture gas chromatography. A relative standard error of less than 10% validated results to compare the accuracy of various methods. The technical and practical issues surrounding each sampling method were also observed and discussed.