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Study of coal spontaneous combustion propensity based on kinetic and coal quality parameters using a TGA setup

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2012, Vol. 332, No. 1, pp. 477-484

Wang, X.; Luo, Y.


The propensity of coal spontaneous combustion can be evaluated using various laboratory testing methods, such as R70 adiabatic tests, thermal gravimetric analyzer (TGA) tests and critical self-heating temperature (CSHT) methods. Each of the methods has its unique characteristics and index for classifying the propensity of self-ignition of coals. Accountable relationships among the propensity indices of different methods should be established. Using the newly established R70 and TGA testing setups in our ventilation laboratory, samples from U.S. coal mines have been collected and tested. The TGA is a relatively new quantitative method. A test can be conducted in a relatively short time, within about one and a half hours, compared to the adiabatic tests. The temperature and weight of the sample can be measured with high precision and then used to determine the activation energy of the coal, which is a good indicator of the potential for self-heating. Under a specific experimental design, the TGA technique could perform the proximate analysis for determining coal quality parameters (e.g., moisture, volatile matter, fixed carbon and ash content). These parameters can be used in an empirical equation for assessing the potential for coal self-ignition. The trend of activation energies determined using TGA techniques is reasonably consistent with the trend of activation energies determined using adiabatic tests. As a case study, a comparative analysis of these two methods for determining activation energy was made on coal samples collected from Indiana. The kinetics of the spontaneous combustion mechanism has been explained. If the functional groups of a coal such as hydroxyl (-OH), carboxyl (-COOH), methyl (-CH3), etc., activate more easily with a small amount of activation energy at a relatively low temperature, the coal will have a higher potential for self-heating. With the kinetic and coal quality parameters determined by the TGA setup, it has been found that the coal with a low potential for self-ignition has low self-heating rate, a high activation energy and a high minimum self-heating temperature.