What is it about?

Global warming and climate change are huge global concerns today. Greenhouse gas accumulation in our atmosphere is a significant contributor to global warming. One of these greenhouse gases is methane. Methane is largely present in underground coal mines and often escapes from there into the atmosphere. This is because coal mines often use ventilation systems to keep the methane concentration inside low. This reduces safety hazards for miners but increases the levels of atmospheric methane. One way to solve this issue is by using the ventilation air methane as an energy source. This can be done by breaking down methane with heat. However, methane is highly explosive and can cause fire hazards. Thus, it is important to make sure that any method to capture methane is safe. In this paper, the authors studied how venting affects the dangers of methane explosion. They measured the “explosion pressure” of methane inside a 1m³ chamber connected with a 9.7 m long venting duct. Then, they compared this result with that for a chamber without a duct. They found that the venting duct significantly decreased the explosion pressure, by as much as 83%! They also compared their results with that of a 20-litre chamber connected to a 2.35 m duct. They found that, unlike their original setup, there was no “second explosion” in the 20 litre chamber, which had a similar venting ratio.

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Why is it important?

Underground coal mines generate a lot of methane gas. Since high levels of methane are toxic and more explosive, ventilation is used to lower the methane levels inside mines. But this also allows methane to escape outside, causing global warming. The escaped methane must, therefore, be captured back. But, it must be done safely enough to not cause fire explosions. KEY TAKEAWAY: Different methods of ventilation should be explored to reduce the dangers of methane explosion while reducing the levels of methane expelled into the atmosphere.

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This page is a summary of: Capture and Mitigation of Fugitive Methane: Examining the Characteristics of Methane Explosions in an Explosion Chamber Connected to a Venting Duct, Energy & Fuels, December 2019, American Chemical Society (ACS), DOI: 10.1021/acs.energyfuels.9b02942.
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