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Methane explosions are among the greatest hazards in the Polish coal mining industry and unfortunately continue to cause many catastrophes. The constant growth of the depth of coal exploitation in the conditions of the high concentration of mining causes the increase of absolute methane content and methane seam pressure from the mined seams. This situation directly affects the increase in the level of methane hazard in the underground work environment. It is therefore obvious to undertake intensive research that will allow for the development of appropriate solutions that help to exclude the risk of mining catastrophes resulting from the ignition and/or methane explosion. In addition to the development of methane hazard prevention methods, an indispensable element of this approach is a very accurate identification of the mechanisms of the combustion and explosion of this gas. The article presents the method of investigation and examples of results of methane explosions carried out in the 400 m experimental gallery of the Experimental Mine “Barbara” of the Central Mining Institute – the only large scale underground experimental facility in Europe. A n analysis has been performed of the influence of the methane release into mining workings on the distribution of the gas concentration and on the course of its explosion or combustion. The data collected characterizes thermodynamic phenomena that form the basis for determining the level of the explosion hazard. Large scale studies have also allowed to assess the risk of conditions that are sufficient for the development of a coal dust explosion initiated by methane explosions. The large scale of the experiments and the system of continuous recording of the course of the experiments allowed the specific characteristics of the methane explosion and burning in underground mining workings to be identified and isolated. For the first time, the course of experiments was recorded via a camera system deployed along the gallery.
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