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During the past decade, several methane/air explosions in abandoned or sealed areas of underground coal mines have been attributed to lightning. Previously published work by the authors showed, through computer simulations, that currents from lightning could propagate down steel-cased boreholes and ignite explosive methane/air mixtures. The presented work expands on the model and describes a methodology based on IEEE Standard 1410-2004 to estimate the probability of an ignition. The methodology provides a means to better estimate the likelihood that an ignition could occur underground and, more importantly, allows the calculation of what-if scenarios to investigate the effectiveness of engineering controls to reduce the hazard. The computer software used for calculating fields and potentials is also verified by comparing computed results with an independently developed theoretical model of electromagnetic field propagation through a conductive medium.
Date of Publication: March-april 2008