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Methane explosion modeling in the Sago Mine

Mining Engineering , 2010, Vol. 62, No. 7, pp. 51-62

McMahon, G.W.; Britt, J.R.; Walker, R.E.


Following the Sago Mine accident, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) asked the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center to study several possible methane explosion scenarios in the Sago coal mine. The study used a 0.3-m (1-ft) resolution map of the mine to produce a 3-dimensional (3 D) model of a portion of the mine, including the sealed area where the explosion occurred. An advanced 3 D computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code was used to calculate the explosion pressures within the sealed area, on the mine seals and in nearby regions of the mine. Based on the best available information on methane concentrations and assumptions on homogeneity and on layering and mix composition, three separate initial conditions of methane-air concentrations and location were studied. This paper discusses the CFD modeling technique, the results of the calculations, the challenges of conducting this type of modeling and the advantages and limitations of CFD modeling of accident investigations of mine explosions.