Ventilation of Tunnels

A tunnel should be properly ventilated during as well as after the construction for the reasons given below.

(a) To provide fresh air to the workers during construction.

(b) To remove the dust created by drilling, blasting, and other tunnelling operations.

(c) To remove dynamite fumes and other objectionable gases produced by the use of dynamites and explosives.

The methods listed below are normally adopted for the ventilation of a tunnel. These are illustrated in Fig. 30.10.

Natural method of ventilation This is achieved by drilling a drift through the tunnel from portal to portal. In most cases natural ventilation is not sufficient and artificial ventilation is still required.

Mechanical ventilation by blow-in method In the blow-in method, fresh air is forced through a pipe or fabric duct by the means of a fan and supplied near the washing face (or the drilling face; the drilling operation requires the washing of bore holes too). This method has the advantage that a fresh air supply is guaranteed where it is required the most. The disadvantage is that the foul air and fumes have to travel a long distance before they can exit the tunnel and in the process it is possible that the incoming fresh air will absorb some dust and smoke particles.

Mechanical ventilation by exhaust method In the exhaust or blow-out method, foul air and fumes are pulled out through a pipe and is expelled by a fan. This sets up an air current that facilitates the entrance of fresh air into the tunnel. This method has the advantage that foul air is kept out of the washing face. The disadvantage, however, is that fresh air has to travel a long distance before it can reach the washing face during which period it may absorb some heat and moisture.

Combination of blow-in and blow-out methods By combining the blow-in and blow-out methods using a blower and an exhaust system, respectively, a tunnel can be provided with the best ventilation. After blasting the ground, the exhaust system is used to remove the smoke and dust. After some time, fresh air is blown in through the ducts and the rotation of the fans is reversed to reverse the flow of air.

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