Establishing Total Airflow Requirements for Underground Metal/Non-Metal Mines with Tier IV Diesel Equipment
Traditionally, airflow requirements for diesel equipment operating in underground environments such as mines and tunnels were determined by multiplying the vehicle power by a ventilation rate that was either mandated by regulations(s) or determined empirically from known quantities. In some cases, utilization factors were further used to adjust (reduce) the total airflow calculations for a diesel equipment fleet.
However, in light of the drastic reductions to diesel equipment emissions mandated by the US EPA Tier IV and URO Stage 4 regulations, there is currently a great deal of uncertainty in the underground mining industry among those responsible for the ventilation of planned new mines or the expansion of current mines. Tier IV engine standards mandate a reduction of DPM and NOx of approximately 95%, but can ventilation rates at mines with Tier IV equipment (or equivalent) really be reduced by a factor of twenty?
This paper outlines some of the factors that affect the airflow required for the ventilation of modern diesel-powered equipment and examines how they can be applied in determining a reasonable ventilation rate for Tier IV compliant equipment operating in subterranean environments.