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Refuge alternatives relief valve testing and design with updated test stand

Mining Engineering , 2018, Vol. 70, No. 3, pp. 46-50

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



Underground refuge alternatives require an air source to supply breathable air to the occupants. This requires pressure relief valves to prevent unsafe pressures from building up within the refuge alternative. The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) mandates that pressure relief valves prevent pressure from exceeding 1.25 kPa (0.18 psi), or as specified by the manufacturer, above mine atmospheric pressure when a fan or compressor is used for the air supply. The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) tested a variety of pressure relief valves using an instrumented test fixture consisting of data acquisition equipment, a centrifugal blower, ductwork and various sensors to determine if the subject pressure relief valves meet the MSHA requirement. Relief pressures and flow characteristics, including opening pressure and flow rate, were measured for five different pressure relief valves under a variety of conditions. The subject pressure relief valves included two off-the-shelf modified check valves, two check valves used in MSHA-approved built-in-place refuge alternatives, and a commercially available valve that was designed for a steel refuge alternative and is currently being used in some built-in-place refuge alternatives. The test results showed relief pressures ranging from 0.20 to 1.53 kPa (0.03 to 0.22 psi) and flow rates up to 19.3 m3/min (683 scfm). As tested, some of the pressure relief valves did not meet the 1.25 kPa (0.18 psi) relief specification.