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Refuge alternatives relief valve testing and design

Mining Engineering , 2016, Vol. 68, No. 10, pp. 55-59

Lutz, T.J.; Bissert, P.T.; Homce, G.T.; Yonkey, J.A.



?The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has been researching refuge alternatives (RAs) since 2007. RAs typically have built-in pressure relief valves (PRVs) to prevent the unit from reaching unsafe pressures. The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration requires that these valves vent the chamber at a maximum pressure of 1.25 kPa (0.18 psi, 5.0 in. H2O), or as specified by the manufacturer, above mine atmospheric pressure in the RA. To facilitate PRV testing, an instrumented benchtop test fixture was developed using an off-the-shelf centrifugal blower and ductwork. Relief pressures and flow characteristics were measured for three units: (1) a modified polyvinyl chloride check valve, (2) an off-the-shelf brass/cast-iron butterfly check valve and (3) a commercially available valve that was designed specifically for one manufacturer’s steel prefabricated RAs and had been adapted for use in one mine operator’s built-in-place RA. PRVs used in tent-style RAs were not investigated. The units were tested with different modifications and configurations in order to check compliance with Title 30 Code of Federal Regulations, or 30 CFR, regulations. The commercially available relief valve did not meet the 30 CFR relief pressure specification but may meet the manufacturer’s specification. Alternative valve designs were modified to meet the 30 CFR relief pressure specification, but all valve designs will need further design research to examine survivability in the event of a 103 kPa (15.0 psi) impulse overpressure during a disaster.