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Field study of longwall coal mine ventilation and bleeder performance

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2011, Vol. 330, No. 1, pp. 388-396

Schatzel, S.; Krog, R.; Dougherty, H.


Longwall coal mine operators in the U.S. are required to ventilate multipanel longwall districts, but may have little or no knowledge about what happens to the ventilation air between the inlet evaluation points (IEPs), bleeder evaluation points (BEPs) and bleeder fans. The effectiveness of bleeder performance can directly influence the ability of a ventilation system to remove and dilute coal bed methane emissions. U.S. coal mining stakeholders have acknowledged their belief that the T-junction split at the longwall face tailgate corner is very important in controlling the distribution of ventilation air. To obtain direct measurements of bleeder performance, a tracer gas, sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), was released into the ventilation air stream on active and inactive longwall panels. Testing was performed on multiple longwall panels that included various phases of longwall development and variable path lengths of ventilation air transport to bleeder fan installations. Changes in the T-junction ventilation air distribution over the life of a longwall panel, and its variable effect on panel ventilation airflow are discussed. These findings will assess the effectiveness of commonly applied ventilation strategies for improving air distribution and ventilation controls to meet statutory requirements.