A novel understanding of combustion behavior of coals by cone calorimeter


Coal has played a significant role in daily life. However, the highly effective combustion and reducing combustion-caused hazards of the coal still hold a great challenge. In this work, effect of particle size on combustion behaviors of two kinds of coals, i.e., Tashan weakly caking coal (TS) and Ningxia coking coal (NX), was studied by the cone calorimeter. The results obtained from cone calorimeter testing indicated that the time to ignition and the values of peak of heat release rate of TS and NX coal samples increased with increasing their particle size. TS coal samples showed an increased content of char residues with the increment in the particle size, whereas the char residues of NX were decreased with the increase in the particle size. The total smoke production values of the TS coal samples were increased as the particle size increased, whereas NX coal samples presented an opposite trend in the total smoke production. This phenomenon is caused by the difference in density of char residues during the combustion process of the coal samples. With regard to the volatile gaseous release, it was noted that the highest total carbon monoxide yield of TS was higher than that of NX. In addition, the total carbon dioxide yields of TS and NX coal samples were decreased with the increase in the particle size. This work paves a potential pathway to explore highly effective burning model of coal.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9


  1. 1.

    Qin Z. New advances in coal structure model. Int J Min Sci Technol. 2018;28(4):541–59.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Li D, Wu D, Xu F, Lai J, Shao L. Literature overview of Chinese research in the field of better coal utilization. J Clean Prod. 2018;185:959–80.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Osborne DG, Graham JM, Elliott LK. New coal utilisation technologies. Miner Eng. 1996;9(2):215–33.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Minchener AJ. Coal gasification for advanced power generation. Fuel. 2005;84(17):2222–35.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Herce C, de Caprariis B, Stendardo S, Verdone N, De Filippis P. Comparison of global models of sub-bituminous coal devolatilization by means of thermogravimetric analysis. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2014;117(1):507–16.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Chen X, Zhang Y, Zhang Q, Li C, Zhou Q. Thermal analyses of the lignite combustion in oxygen-enriched atmosphere. Therm Sci. 2015;19(3):801–11.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Li X, Li J, Wu GG, Bai ZQ, Li W. Clean and efficient utilization of sodium-rich Zhundong coals in China: behaviors of sodium species during thermal conversion processes. Fuel. 2018;218:162–73.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Zhao Y, Liu J, Wei X, Luo Z, Chen Q, Song S. New progress in the processing and efficient utilization of coal. Min Sci Technol. 2011;21(4):547–52.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Shi L, Liu Q, Guo X, Wu W, Liu Z. Pyrolysis behavior and bonding information of coal-A TGA study. Fuel Process Technol. 2013;108:125–32.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Wang X, Luo Y, Vieira B. Experimental technique and modeling for evaluating heat of rewetting effect on coals’ propensity of spontaneous combustion based on adiabatic oxidation method. Int J Coal Geol. 2018;187:1–10.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Arenillas A, Pevida C, Rubiera F, Garcia R, Pis JJ. Characterisation of model compounds and a synthetic coal by TG/MS/FTIR to represent the pyrolysis behaviour of coal. J Anal Appl Pyrolysis. 2004;71(2):747–63.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Lievens C, Ci D, Bai Y, Ma L, Zhang R, Chen JY, et al. A study of slow pyrolysis of one low rank coal via pyrolysis-GC/MS. Fuel Process Technol. 2013;116:85–93.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Kaljuvee T, Keelman M, Trikkel A, Petkova V. TG-FTIR/MS analysis of thermal and kinetic characteristics of some coal samples. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2013;113(3):1063–71.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Luo L, Liu J, Zhang H, Ma J, Wang X, Jiang X. TG-MS-FTIR study on pyrolysis behavior of superfine pulverized coal. J Anal Appl Pyrolysis. 2017;128:64–74.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Wang Q, Guo S, Sun J. Spontaneous combustion prediction of coal by C80 and ARC techniques. Energy Fuel. 2009;23(10):4871–6.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Pandey J, Mohalik NK, Mishra RK, Khalkho A, Kumar D, Singh VK. Investigation of the role of fire retardants in preventing spontaneous heating of coal and controlling coal mine fires. Fire Technol. 2012;51(2):227–45.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Guo X, Deng C, Zhang X, Wang Y. Formation law of hydrocarbon index gases during coal spontaneous combustion in an oxygen-poor environment. Energy Source Part A. 2019;41(5):626–35.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Naktiyok J. Determination of the self-heating temperature of coal by means of TGA analysis. Energy Fuel. 2018;32(2):2299–305.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Kucuk A, Kadioglu Y, Gulaboglu MS. A study of spontaneous, combustion characteristics of a Turkish lignite: particle size, moisture of coal, humidity of air. Combust Flame. 2003;133(3):255–61.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Zhang YN, Chen L, Deng J, Zhao JY, Li HT, Yang H. Influence of granularity on thermal behaviour in the process of lignite spontaneous combustion. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2018;135(4):2247–55.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Li JH, Li ZH, Yang YL, Zhang XY. Study on the generation of active sites during low-temperature pyrolysis of coal and its influence on coal spontaneous combustion. Fuel. 2019;241:283–96.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Wang C, Yang Y, Tsai YT, Deng J, Shu CM. Spontaneous combustion in six types of coal by using the simultaneous thermal analysis-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy technique. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2016;126(3):1591–602.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Xu T, Wang DM, He QL. The study of the critical moisture content at which coal has the most high tendency to spontaneous combustion. Int J Coal Prep Util. 2013;33(3):117–27.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Zhong Q, Zhang J, Yang YB, Li Q, Xu B, Jiang T. Thermal behavior of coal used in rotary kiln and its combustion intensification. Energies. 2018;11(5):1055–66.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Zhao Y, Qiu P, Chen G, Pei J, Sun S, Liu L, et al. Selective enrichment of chemical structure during first grinding of Zhundong coal and its effect on pyrolysis reactivity. Fuel. 2017;189:46–56.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Chang Q, Gao R, Li H, Dai Z, Yu G, Liu X, et al. Effects of CO2 on coal rapid pyrolysis behavior and chemical structure evolution. J Anal Appl Pyrolysis. 2017;128:370–8.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Gao M, Wang Y, Dong J, Li F, Xie K. Release behavior and formation mechanism of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons during coal pyrolysis. Chemosphere. 2016;158:1–8.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Deng J, Zhao JY, Xiao Y, Zhang YN, Huang AC, Shu CM. Thermal analysis of the pyrolysis and oxidation behaviour of 1/3 coking coal. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2017;129(3):1779–86.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Deng J, Wang K, Zhang Y, Yang H. Study on the kinetics and reactivity at the ignition temperature of Jurassic coal in North Shaanxi. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2014;118(1):417–23.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Jiang Y, Zong P, Tian B, Xu F, Tian Y, Qiao Y, et al. Pyrolysis behaviors and product distribution of Shenmu coal at high heating rate: a study using TG-FTIR and Py-GC/MS. Energy Convers Manag. 2019;179:72–80.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Zhang K, Wang Z, Fang W, He Y, Hsu E, Li Q, et al. High-temperature pyrolysis behavior of a bituminous coal in a drop tube furnace and further characterization of the resultant char. J Anal Appl Pyrolysis. 2019;137:163–70.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Tian B, Qiao YY, Tian YY, Liu Q. Investigation on the effect of particle size and heating rate on pyrolysis characteristics of a bituminous coal by TG-FTIR. J Anal Appl Pyrolysis. 2016;121:376–86.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Arenillas A, Rubiera F, Pis JJ. Simultaneous thermogravimetric-mass spectrometric study on the pyrolysis behaviour of different rank coals. J Anal Appl Pyrolysis. 1999;50(1):31–46.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Shi YQ, Yu B, Duan LJ, Gui Z, Wang BB, Hu Y, et al. Graphitic carbon nitride/phosphorus-rich aluminum phosphinates hybrids as smoke suppressants and flame retardants for polystyrene. J Hazard Mater. 2017;332:87–96.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Apaydin K, Laachachi A, Fouquet T, Jimenez M, Bourbigot S, Ruch D. Mechanistic investigation of a flame retardant coating made by layer-by-layer assembly. RSC Adv. 2014;4:43326–34.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Yuan Y, Shi YQ, Yu B, Zhan J, Zhang Y, Song L, et al. Facile synthesis of aluminum branched oligo(phenylphosphonate) submicro-particles with enhanced flame retardance and smoke toxicity suppression for epoxy resin composites. J Hazard Mater. 2020;381:121233.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Yu B, Tawiah B, Wang LQ, Yuen ACY, Zhang ZC, Shen LL, et al. Interface decoration of exfoliated MXene ultra-thin nanosheets for fire and smoke suppressions of thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer. J Hazard Mater. 2019;374:110–9.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Yuan BH, Hu Y, Chen XF, Shi YQ, Niu Y, Zhang Y, et al. Dual modification of graphene by polymeric flame retardant and Ni(OH)2 nanosheets for improving flame retardancy of polypropylene. Compos Part A Appl Sci. 2017;100:106–17.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Yuan BH, Sun YR, Chen XF, Shi YQ, Dai HM, He S. Poorly-/well-dispersed graphene: abnormal influence on flammability and fire behavior of intumescent flame retardant. Compos Part A Appl Sci. 2018;109:345–54.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Yuan BH, Fan A, Yang M, Chen XF, Hu Y, Bao CL, et al. The effects of graphene on the flammability and fire behavior of intumescent flame retardant polypropylene composites at different flame scenarios. Polym degrad stab. 2017;143:42–56.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Shi YQ, Yu B, Zheng YY, Yang J, Duan ZP, Hu Y. Design of reduced graphene oxide decorated with DOPO-phosphanomidate for enhanced fire safety of epoxy resin. J Colloid Interface Sci. 2018;521:160–71.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Huggett C. Estimation of rate of heat release by means of oxygen consumption measurements. Fire Mater. 1980;4(2):61–5.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Bhoyate S, Ionescu M, Kahol PK, Gupta RK. Castor-oil derived nonhalogenated reactive flame-retardant-based polyurethane foams with significant reduced heat release rate. J Appl Polym Sci. 2019;136(13):47276–82.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Jayaweera SAA, Moss JH, Thwaites MW. The effect of particle-size on the combustion of weardale coal. Thermochim Acta. 1989;152(1):215–25.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    Wang Y, Zhang L, Yang Y, Cai X. Synergistic flame retardant effects and mechanisms of aluminum diethylphosphinate (AlPi) in combination with aluminum trihydrate (ATH) in UPR. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2016;125(2):839–48.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Shah MR, Raza MZ, Ahmed N. Characterization of Lakhra coal by TG/DTG. Fuel Sci Technol Int. 1994;12(1):85–95.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Niu SL, Lu CM, Han KH, Zhao JL. Thermogravimetric analysis of combustion characteristics and kinetic parameters of pulverized coals in oxy-fuel atmosphere. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2009;98(1):267–74.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Bhoi S, Banerjee T, Mohanty K. Insights on the combustion and pyrolysis behavior of three different ranks of coals using reactive molecular dynamics simulation. RSC Adv. 2016;6(4):2559–70.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


This work was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 51803031, 71804026, 51774182, 51704079 and 51874100), the Natural Science Foundation of Fujian Province (Grant No. 2018J05078) and the Opening Research Fund of State Key Laboratory of Coal Mine Safety Technology (Grant No. SKLCMST101).

Author information



Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Libi Fu or Yongqian Shi or Liancong Wang.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Liu, C., Fu, L., Yang, J. et al. A novel understanding of combustion behavior of coals by cone calorimeter. J Therm Anal Calorim 143, 139–150 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10973-019-09250-0

Download citation


  • Combustion behavior
  • Cone calorimeter
  • Heat release
  • Smoke production
  • Volatile gaseous release