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Experimental research on rock anchor corrosion in US underground coal mines

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2013, Vol. 334, No. 1, pp. 410-419

Spearing, A.; Mondal, K.; Bylapudi, G.; Weber, J.


U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports state that about 100 million rock anchors are installed annually in U.S. coal mines (Tadolini et al., 2006), and rock-related safety remains an issue. The majority of these coal mines have conditions that make corrosion probable in the longer term. Despite this, very little research has been performed to analyze corrosion and its effects on rock anchors in coal mines. To further evaluate the effects of corrosive conditions in coal mines on rock anchors, three different experiments were conducted during an initial Illinois Clean Coal Institute (ICCI)-funded project from 2008-2009. The results of these experiments were further studied, with additional tests, in the extended ICCI-funded project during 2011-2012. The experiments were destructive testing, electrochemical testing (potentiodynamic polarization tests) and open circuit potential (OCP) testing, conducted in order to study corrosion in environments similar to those found in Illinois coal mines with a focus on major rock anchor types typically installed underground. Destructive test results showed highest reduction in peak strength at higher pH and temperature. From the destructive test results, epoxy-coated and galvanized anchors were observed to be better when compared to uncoated. Electrochemical testing was performed to find the corrosion potential and corrosion rates of ASTM A615 steel grades 40, 60 and 75 in four different solutions of varying sulfur content at ambient temperature. The effect of temperature and pH levels on corrosion potential and corrosion rates of steel grades were also evaluated with additional electrochemical testing, where an increase in temperature with all other constant conditions caused a significant increase in the corrosion penetration rate. OCP data indicated higher corrosion potential values (-mV) for rock anchors in wet areas, when compared to those from the dry areas. OCP test results of the rock anchors from the laboratory corrosion chambers were similar to those measured in the sampled coal mines.