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Design and implementation of a polycarbonate safe haven wall in an underground coal mine

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2013, Vol. 334, No. 1, pp. 391-400

Perry, K.A.; Meyr, R.A.


Following three major mining accidents in 2006, the MINER Act of 2006 was enacted by the U.S.Congress. The U.S. Mining Safety and Health Administration subsequently released the Final Rule on Refuge Alternatives for Underground Coal Mines, which required every underground coal mine to install refuge alternatives to help prevent future fatalities of trapped miners in the event of a disaster. The following paper documents the research that was performed on a structural wall to be used in conjunction with a breathable air system to create a refuge alternative. A 103.4-kPa (15-psi) safe haven polycarbonate wall for use in underground coal mines was designed and modeled using finite element modeling in ANSYS Explicit Dynamics. The successful safe haven wall design was modeled for an actual underground coal mine environment using the explicit finite difference formulation program FLAC3D to determine the responses of the wall and surrounding strata within a mine. A full-scale design was fabricated and installed in an underground coal mine to determine any construction constraints and as a final step in proof of concept for the safe haven wall design. This paper is meant to introduce the reader to a new wall concept to be used in conjunction with current technology.