Claire Strebinger, Colorado School of Mines; Gregory Bogin Jr., Colorado School of Mines; Jürgen Brune, Colorado School of Mines
Evidence shows that methane gas emanates from the mined-out area or gob of a longwall coal mine and can travel towards the working face, posing an explosion risk. Since the gob consists of varying levels of compacted rock, many researchers have modeled fluid flow through the gob as a Darcy-type porous media with a specified porosity and permeability. When studying methane gas explosions near the gob fringe, the Darcy flow assumption may not be applicable to describe the methane flame interaction with the gob. Computational fluid dynamic (CFD) studies were performed modeling methane flame propagation across a simulated gob which was modeled as both a Darcy porous medium and as discrete rock objects with varying sphericity. Modeling the gob as a Darcy porous medium results in unrealistic methane flame propagation since the porous media assumption does not consider any differences in rock size and/or distribution. Additionally, the porous media model does not allow for ignition within and subsequent flame propagation through the porous medium, which must be modeled to understand the potential for methane gas explosions in the gob area. Modeling the gob as discrete rock objects produces more realistic methane flame dynamics and agrees with experimental observations. Modeling results show flame propagation across circles, hexagons, and squares, meant to represent rock rubble in the gob, produce different levels of turbulence which affects methane flame propagation velocity. This research demonstrates that modeling methane gas explosions in a longwall coal mine environment, specifically near the gob area, requires modeling obstacles, such as rock rubble, as discrete physical objects to capture the complex coupling of fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, and heat transfer.