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Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) investigation of impacts of an obstruction on airflow in underground mines

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2012, Vol. 332, No. 1, pp. 505-513

Zhou, L.; Goodman, G.; Martikainen, A.


Continuous airflow monitoring can improve the safety of the underground work force by ensuring the uninterrupted and controlled distribution of mine ventilation to all working areas. Air velocity measurements vary significantly and can change rapidly depending on the exact measurement location and, in particular, due to the presence of obstructions in the air stream. Air velocity must be measured at locations away from obstructions to avoid the vortices and eddies that can produce inaccurate readings. Further, an uninterrupted measurement path cannot always be guaranteed when using continuous airflow monitors due to the presence of nearby equipment, personnel, roof falls and rib rolls. Effective use of these devices requires selection of a minimum distance from an obstacle, such that an air velocity measurement can be made but not affected by the presence of that obstacle. This paper investigates the impacts of an obstruction on the behavior of downstream airflow using a numerical CFD model calibrated with experimental test results from underground testing. Factors including entry size, obstruction size and the inlet or incident velocity are examined for their effects on the distributions of airflow around an obstruction. A relationship is developed between the minimum measurement distance and the hydraulic diameters of the entry and the obstruction. A final analysis considers the impacts of continuous monitor location on the accuracy of velocity measurements and on the application of minimum measurement distance guidelines.