This paper presents a method for determining the sensitivity of the main air flow directions in ventilation subnetworks to changes in aerodynamic resistance and air density in mine workings. The authors have developed formulae for determining the sensitivity of the main subnetwork air flows by establishing the degree of dependency of the air volume stream in a given working on the variations in resistance or air density of other workings of the network. They have been implemented in the Ventgraph mine ventilation network simulator. This software, widely used in Polish collieries, provides an extended possibility to predict the process of ventilation, air distribution and, in the case of underground fire, the spread of combustion gasses. The new method facilitates an assessment by mine ventilation services of the stability of ventilation systems in exploitation areas and determines the sensitivity of the main subnetwork air flow directions to changes in aerodynamic resistance and air density. Recently in some Polish collieries new longwalls are developed in seams located deeper than the bottom of the intake shaft. Such a solution is called “exploitation below the level of access” or “sublevel”. The new approach may be applied to such developments to assess the potential of changes in direction and air flow rates. In addition, an interpretation of the developed sensitivity indicator is presented. While analyzing air distributions for sublevel exploitation, the application of current numerical models for calculations of the distribution results in tangible benefits, such as the evaluation of the safety or risk levels for such exploitation. Application of the Ventgraph computer program, and particularly the module POŻAR (fire) with the newly developed options, allows for an additional approach to the sensitivity indicator in evaluating air flow safety levels for the risks present during exploitation below the level of the intake shaft. The analyses performed and examples presented enabled useful conclusions for mining practice to be drawn.
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