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Experimental and analytical validation of plain and reinforced concrete mine seal designs

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2013, Vol. 334, No. 1, pp. 477-488

Mohamed, K.M.; Zipf, R.K.; Gearhart, D.F.; Batchler, T.J.


Seals are explosion-resistant structures built in underground coal mines to isolate abandoned mining areas from the active workings. An equivalent single degree of freedom (SDOF) method such as the single-degree-of-freedom blast effects design spreadsheet (SBEDS) developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can be used to design seals to resist mine explosions. The critical input for the SDOF code is the seal resistance function. The objective for this study is to develop engineering data for design of plain concrete (PC) and reinforced concrete (RC) seals using finite element (FE) models. The FE models can then be used to generate resistance functions for different PC and RC seal designs, which can be used in the SDOF codes. The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) researchers designed and built a test fixture for use in conjunction with NIOSH’s Mine Roof Simulator to apply a four-point bending load on the face of the tested seal. Eight large-scale experiments for each PC and RC seal were conducted. The experimental design considered the effects of the foundation strength, hitching and roof-to-floor convergence. Calibrated FE models for PC and RC seals were developed using ANSYS Ver. 13. With a very limited number of engineering-based assumptions and a single set of data—including Young’s modulus, compressive strength, stress-strain relationships, etc.—the PC and RC seal models successfully calculated the recorded resistance functions and failure patterns for a wide range of boundary conditions. Plug and RC seals were assumed for a 1.83-m- (6-ft-) high entry to demonstrate the application of the calibrated finite element models for calculating the resistance functions of these seals. The resistance function of a particular plug seal case was found to be a bilinear relationship. The resistance function of a particular RC seal without shear reinforcement was found to be a nonlinear relationship.