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Heat/humidity tests of a built-in-place refuge alternative using simulated miners

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2018, Vol. 344, No. 1, pp. 7-14

Yantek, D.S.; Homce, G.T.; Yan, L.; Lutz, T.J.; Srednicki, J.R.; Yonkey, J.A.



Federal regulations require the installation of refuge alternatives in underground coal mines. Of the in-use refuge alternatives, more than 95 percent are mobile refuge alternatives, with the remainder being built-in-place (BIP) refuge alternatives. Heat/humidity buildup has been one of the major concerns with mobile refuge alternatives. For BIP refuge alternatives, however, there is a lack of in-mine heat/humidity test data to determine the extent of heat and humidity buildup. To quantify heat/humidity buildup in BIP refuge alternatives, the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) performed a series of heat/humidity tests on a 60-person BIP refuge alternative with and without a borehole air supply. At various times during the year, tests were performed with cooled, heated or unconditioned borehole air to examine how various outdoor temperatures may affect the thermal conditions inside a BIP refuge alternative. The results show that the air supplied to a BIP refuge alternative may require heating or cooling, depending on the outside air temperatures and the temperature of the mine. For example, during tests with an external ambient temperature above 25 °C (70 °F) and a relative humidity of 90 percent, providing 13 °C (55 °F) dew point air at 775 scfm, which is slightly higher than the mandated flow rate of 12.5 scfm per person, kept the internal apparent temperature below the mandated 35 °C (95 °F). Results for each test case are presented.