Gas Sensing Technology Improves Mine Safety
An underground mine is an inhospitable place in which to work. Gas poisoning and explosion is a major hazard, with many different types of gas commonly present in mines. Black damp, a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen, is formed as the result of corrosion in enclosed spaces so removing oxygen from the atmosphere and potentially causing suffocation. Fire damp mainly consists of methane, a highly flammable gas that explodes at concentrations between 5% and 15% or, if it does not explode, at 25% concentration it causes asphyxiation. Methane ignition can trigger the much more dangerous coal dust explosions because the shock wave raises coal dust from the floor of the mine galleries to make an explosive mixture that is highly susceptible to spontaneous combustion. Stink damp, so called because of the rotten egg smell of the hydrogen sulphide gas, can explode and is also very toxic. Carbon monoxide, toxic even at low concentrations, is another major hazard.
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