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Fire detection in coal mines based on semiconductor gas sensors

Peter Reimann (Laboratory for Measurement Technology, Department of Mechatronics, Saarland University, Saarbruecken, Germany)
Andreas Schütze (Laboratory for Measurement Technology, Department of Mechatronics, Saarland University, Saarbruecken, Germany)

Sensor Review

ISSN: 0260-2288

Article publication date: 20 January 2012

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Abstract

Purpose

Due to the environmental conditions, the detection and identification of hazardous situations in coal mines is a challenge. The purpose of this research is to focus on the underground fire detection, especially of smoldering fires, which are characterized by the outgassing of CO and C2H4.

Design/methodology/approach

The study developed a system based on a single semiconductor gas sensor and sensors for relative humidity and temperature. With a high‐dynamic‐range hardware control and data acquisition platform a commercial semiconductor gas sensor is operated with an application‐optimized temperature cycle to improve stability and selectivity.

Findings

A hierarchical evaluation strategy not only allows identification of smoldering fires signified by CO and C2H4 with a ratio of 100:1, but is also suitable for separating or quantifying typical interfering compounds such as CH4, CO, NOX or H2 thus helping to avoid costly false alarms. After promising laboratory pre‐tests, a system was built for field tests including test gases and re‐calibration algorithms. Currently the authors are working on a self‐monitoring strategy based on redundant data from impedance spectroscopy to improve the stability of the system.

Originality/value

This approach allows detection of C2H4 at sub‐ppm concentrations even in the presence of CH4 at levels up to 1 percent with only a single gas sensor. The system achieves classification reproducibility as well as robustness allowing the development of a cost‐efficient under‐ground fire detection system. The novel self‐monitoring strategy will further improve the reliability of the system.

Keywords

Citation

Reimann, P. and Schütze, A. (2012), "Fire detection in coal mines based on semiconductor gas sensors", Sensor Review, Vol. 32 No. 1, pp. 47-58. https://doi.org/10.1108/02602281211197143

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited