Numerical investigation of CO2 fringe behaviour on a longwall face and its control
Gas management at longwall faces has always been a challenging issue to mine operators. Along a longwall face of an Australian colliery where CO2 is the dominant coal seam gas, frequent power trip off occurred due to the high goaf gas (CO2) emission, which significantly affected the normal longwall production and brought about safety threats to the longwall crew. CO2 fringe fluctuation changes close to tailgate (TG) was identified as a major concern. To better understand the CO2 fringe behaviour on the longwall face and develop the corresponding effective control measures, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) model was developed and validated based upon field data collected from the colliery. General gas flow characteristics on the longwall face were obtained based on which parametric studies were then carried out to investigate the impact of ventilation system and gas drainage options on goaf gas fringe behaviour. The use of a back-return ventilation system was demonstrated to be an effective approach to control the CO2 fringe at TG; however, it was not practical due to the restriction of existing panel layout. As a compromise of the back-return system, a new gas drainage option using TG borehole which was more practical and cost effective was proposed and assessed by the CFD models. Model results indicated that goaf gas fringe at TG can be effectively controlled when a suction pressure between − 1500 Pa and − 2000 Pa was applied to the TG borehole. Therefore, it can be concluded from this study that gas drainage conducted through TG borehole can be an effective approach to solve the CO2 accumulation at TG on a longwall face, especially when the back-return system is not applicable on site.