Spontaneous Combustion – Cadeby Difficulties Solved

September 1917

Mexborough Times, Saturday, September 22, 1917

Underground Fires
Mining Engineers Discuss the Cause of Spontaneous Combustion
Cadeby Difficulties Solved

The Twenty Eighth Annual Meeting of the Institution of Mining Engineers was held at Newcastle on Friday, Mr Wallace Thorneycroft presiding.

At the outset the Lord Mayor of Newcastle (Mr G. Love) extended a civic welcome, remarking that the city and district did not forget how much they depended upon the prosperity of the mining industry.

A paper by MessrsĀ  J.L.Graham and James Hale of the Doncaster Research Laboratory, on “the the oxidizable constituents of coal” was then read. The paper dealt with researches into the constituents of coal with a view to finding the constituent responsible for causing spontaneous combustion, and recorded that while the experiments are not complete, considerable progress had been made, and it has been found that the constituents which are soluble in pyriding are not the cause of spontaneous combustion, a conclusion considerably at variance with those come to by previous investigators.

Mr W.A.Chambers, of Rotherham, in the course of discussion on the first paper, said that in the deep pits with which he was connected for 30 years there had been underground fires, on average of two year, and in 1910 the mine became dangerous, and arrangements were made for investigating into the cause of the oxidisation which occasioned the trouble.

In 1912 there was an explosion at the Cadeby colliery which interfered with investigation, but since then there had been no further trouble, no underground fires at all.

This was due to the work of a chemist, who analysed the atmosphere in suspected danger areas. If there was an increase of CO2, steps were taken to deal with it, by excluding air, or opening out so that the ventilation carried off the heat generated. The result was more satisfactory.

Several speakers seem to think they were not much wiser from information in the paper, and Mr Graham said he regretted they could not give a definite cause, but he claimed that moisture considerably accelerated oxidisation.

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