The development of a novel method for arresting tunnel explosions
The onset of an explosion in an underground mining environment is a threat that has over years attracted a lot of attention. Much of this attention has focused on either arresting the explosion after it has been initiated or preventing the initiation. The methods devised have proved successful in most cases, but on the odd occasion that they fail, the end results can be disastrous. There have been fatalities from underground mining explosions as a result of fires burning and sapping all the oxygen in the atmosphere leading to asphyxiation. A different approach to arresting these explosions would enhance safety in the face of increased productivity. A novel method using an explosion door with a porous media acting as a shock wave attenuator and arresting the flames has been introduced. This research investigates the ability of the porous media used in the explosion door to withstand explosions. The performance of the porous media is crucial, as its failure would render the explosion door useless. In order to assess the performance of the porous media, a shock tube was built capable of generating shock waves with a Mach number of 1.5. By placing samples of the porous media within the test section of the shock tube, pressure measurements were taken fore and aft of the porous media as it was impinged upon by the shock wave. Tests were also conducted using thin orifice plates to provide data for comparing the performance characteristics of the porous media. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations of the porous media and the orifice plates were performed to validate the experimental work as well providing graphic detail of the flow around the test specimen. The work presented in this thesis makes a contribution to the efforts towards the provision of a safe underground environment. This contribution is achieved by investigating the performance of the porous media to be used in an explosion door and correlating the performance of the porous media with thin orifice plates. The porous media in the work presented here is currently used in the castings industry and its application as a shock wave attenuator and fire arrester would contribute greatly to the well being of all people working underground.