A TGA–DSC-based study on macroscopic behaviors of coal–oxygen reactions in context of underground coal fires


Underground coal fires (UCFs) cause remarkable loss of energy resources and significant environmental pollution. Due to the limited capacity of oxygen transport, the inception and development of UCFs represent a very unique mode of coal–oxygen reactions. Therefore, a high-volatile flammable coal sample is thermally analyzed with the combined TGA–DSC approach under four oxygen concentrations (21%, 15%, 9% and 3%) and three heating rates (1 °C min−1, 2 °C min−1 and 5 °C min−1). It is found that the oxygen concentration does not significantly influence the early (low-temperature) stage of coal–oxygen reactions. With the decrease in oxygen concentration, the intensity of the exothermic reactions is reduced and the duration of reactions is extended. Based on the experimental results, the apparent activation energy is calculated. The variation of the apparent activation energy reflects the different reaction stages: volatiles burning and char oxidation, which is verified by the TGA–DSC results. Under the extreme condition of 3% oxygen concentration, a very distinct macroscopic thermochemical behavior is observed, and the limited oxygen supply controls the reaction rate throughout the entire process, which qualitatively explains the persistency of the burning phenomena in most UCFs.

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(adapted from Ref. [26] with TC denoting thermocouple)

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The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51850410504) and Open Projects of State Key Laboratory of Coal Resources and Safe Mining of CUMT (Grant No. 14KF01).

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Correspondence to Jun Li.

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Li, J., Yang, Y., Li, J. et al. A TGA–DSC-based study on macroscopic behaviors of coal–oxygen reactions in context of underground coal fires. J Therm Anal Calorim (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10973-021-10671-z

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  • Underground coal fires
  • Coal–oxygen reactions
  • Oxygen concentration
  • Heating rate
  • Apparent activation energy