The application of virtual reality to the simulation of mine fires and explosions
Despite significant improvements in mine safety, underground mine fires and explosions are responsible for a significant number of deaths world-wide each year. The training of personnel in safety procedures has had a significant impact on reducing the frequency of injuries and fatalities. This thesis presents an innovative virtual reality simulation, 'Fire-VR', designed to enhance the visualisation of a mine ventilation system. Fire-VR incorporates existing ventilation network analysis procedures with a graphical front-end and offers considerable potential for user interactivity in training scenarios. The system, Fire-VR incorporates a suite of programs, created to model the mine infra-structure, ventilation system and environment of a typical mine. The key components include the ventilation modelling system (VentSim-VR) to simulate the flow of air through the mine network and an environment modelling system (EnvSim-VR) to simulate the effects of various external and internal influences on the quality of the ventilated air within the mine. The environmental system is able to model both pre-defined events (such as the liberation of firedamp from the strata) which can occur at certain times and also spontaneous events which occur when pre-determined criteria have been met. The system has been created with two main interfaces for the user to interact with. Firstly, the 2D interface shows a plan view of the mine network with the primary function of displaying environmental and ventilation information. Secondly, the 3D interface, used as the main virtual reality graphical front-end to the simulation provides the user with a rich semi-immersive virtual environment. It is suggested that Fire-VR can potentially be applied in the training of personnel at a significantly reduced cost and in a safe environment. To demonstrate this a number of possible training examples have been presented to showcase the potential of the Fire-VR software.