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Study on correlation of quantified coal rank with self-heating temperature

Mining Engineering , 2015, Vol. 67, No. 11, pp. 54-60

Wang, X.; Luo, Y.


It is generally known that spontaneous combustion potential is a function of coal rank, with low-rank coals having high susceptibility to self-ignition and high-rank coals having low potential. To establish this functional relationship and use it as an engineering tool to identify the propensity of coal to self-heat, both rank and spontaneous combustion potential should be quantified. ASTM D388 is normally used to classify coals by rank, but this classification system can only serve a qualitative analysis. To classify coals by their potential for spontaneous combustion, the self-heating temperature (SHT) method originally developed by the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) was used by Litton and Page (1994) to correlate coal rank with spontaneous combustion potential. In that method, the SHTs of coal determined by an adiabatic experiment are linked with proximate analysis results through a proposed concept known as the “moist fuelratio.” This ratio is a function of moisture, volatile matter and fixed carbon, all of which have widely different content percentages in different ranks of coal and have strong relationships with coal rank. However, the method is highly empirical, and there is large standard deviation between experimental data and calculated results. The equation correlating the coal quality parameters to determine SHT should be improved with more experimental data.

  This paper reports on the development of a new system for predicting the spontaneous combustion potential of U.S. coals, based on coal composition data from the U.S. Geological Survey’s coal quality database. First, the user is provided with a quantified classification of coal rank. Second, based on experimental SHT data covering a wide range of ranks from lignite to low-volatile bituminous coal, the original USBM correlation for predicting SHT is improved for the respective rank of coal. The relationship between the rank and SHT of U.S. coals was developed and plotted. The plot diagram can be used for a quick estimate of the SHT of a U.S. coal and as a cost-effective tool for the initial risk assessment of a new mine development.