Investigation of organic material self-heating in oxygen-depleted condition within a coal-waste dump in Upper Silesia Coal Basin, Poland

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Self-heating occurring was studied in the Bytom coal-waste dump using petrographic, mineralogical, and organic geochemical to assess the changes induced by heating on organic material and quantify—qualify the emitted gases. The distribution of geochemical markers such as n-alkanes, alkylbenzenes, alkylcyclohexanes, phenols, sulfurous compounds, and emitted gases in the waste dump is outlined. Heating of organic material there is indicated by high vitrinite random reflectance (Rr)% values that typically characterize samples with short-chain n-alkanes, alkylbenzenes, and alkylmethylbenzenes. Contents of minerals showing minor alterations are high with ~ 90% in burned-out samples. Inside the dump where temperatures can reach up to 700–1300 °C and oxygen contents are significantly reduced, conditions favor coking. This situation is confirmed by the formation of enormous quantities of phenols and alkylbenzenes or by elevated amounts of H2 formed under low-oxygen conditions (pyrolysis). Aromatization, pyrolysis (thermal cracking), and oxidation are associated with the heating in the dump. Gases such as methane, ethane, propane, and ethylene formed during self-heating can serve as fuel for the fire inside the dump, in the process generating huge amounts of CO2.

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Dr. Pádhraig Kennan (University College, Dublin, Ireland) helped with language corrections.

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The petrography and mineralogy studies were partly funded from grant 2016/21/B/ST10/02293 from the National Science Centre, Poland.

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Correspondence to Ádám Nádudvari.

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The original article was revised: The original publication of this paper contains a mistake. The correct caption of figures 7 and 8 is shown in this paper.

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Nádudvari, Á., Fabiańska, M.J., Misz-Kennan, M. et al. Investigation of organic material self-heating in oxygen-depleted condition within a coal-waste dump in Upper Silesia Coal Basin, Poland. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2020) doi:10.1007/s11356-019-07336-8

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  • Coal-waste dump
  • Self-heating
  • Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS)
  • Aromatization
  • Pyrolysis
  • Emitted gases