Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

Frank Mendham, David Cliff and Tim Horberry, Is Carbon Monoxide Sensing an Effective Early Fire Detection Option for Underground Coal Mines?, 14th Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong, The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy & Mine Managers Association of Australia, 2014, 360-368.


The ability of carbon monoxide (CO) sensing to detect early stage smouldering of fixed plant fires in underground coal mines was recently assessed as part of an ongoing fire detection research project. Experiments were carried out to record the level of CO concurrent at the time of alarm activation of a Video Based Fire Detection (VBFD) system. The tests were carried out under simulated mine conditions within the SIMTARS facility at Redbank, Queensland. The experimental setup initially located the CO sensors in the positions at where they would typically be installed underground. On testing the experimental setup, it was found that the amount of CO produced from simulated overheating conveyor belt bearing housings did not display a reading on the CO sensors. The VBFD system however detected smoke and alarmed on each of the trial tests. To enable the experiments to proceed and a comparison to be made, the CO sensors were moved considerably closer to the weak pyrolysis fire source. The question of CO sensor capability in typical operational mine positions was highlighted as a result of this experiment. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling was used to estimate the fire size required to activate CO sensors under typical mining conditions. This modelling reinforced the limitations in using CO detectors on fixed plant. As such, the study presented here indicates that CO sensing may not be the most effective early fire detection option available, and that further research and development work with VBFD should be undertaken.