Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 30, pp 23453–23470 | Cite as

A review on the mechanism, risk evaluation, and prevention of coal spontaneous combustion in China

  • Biao Kong
  • Zenghua Li
  • Yongliang Yang
  • Zhen Liu
  • Daocheng Yan
Review Article


In recent years, the ecology, security, and sustainable development of modern mines have become the theme of coal mine development worldwide. However, spontaneous combustion of coal under conditions of oxygen supply and automatic exothermic heating during coal mining lead to coalfield fires. Coal spontaneous combustion (CSC) causes huge economic losses and casualties, with the toxic and harmful gases produced during coal combustion not only polluting the working environment, but also causing great damage to the ecological environment. China is the world’s largest coal producer and consumer; however, coal production in Chinese mines is seriously threatened by the CSC risk. Because deep underground mining methods are commonly adopted in Chinese coal mines, coupling disasters are frequent in these mines with the coalfield fires becoming increasingly serious. Therefore, in this study, we analyzed the development mechanism of CSC. The CSC risk assessment was performed from the aspects of prediction, detection, and determination of the “dangerous area” in a coal mine (i.e., the area most susceptible to fire hazards). A new geophysical method for CSC determination is proposed and analyzed. Furthermore, the main methods for CSC fire prevention and control and their advantages and disadvantages are analyzed. To eventually construct CSC prevention and control integration system, future developmental direction of CSC was given from five aspects. Our results can present a reference for the development of CSC fire prevention and control technology and promote the protection of ecological environment in China.


Coal resource Mechanism Prevention Risk evaluation Spontaneous combustion 



The authors would like to thank the reviewers and editors who presented critical and constructive comments for the improvement of this paper. We also wish to thank K Anand Kumar for improving the language of this paper.

Funding information

This research was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2017BSCXB11) and the Research and Innovation Project for College Graduates of Jiangsu Province (KYCX17_1541).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Gas and Fire Control for Coal Mines (China University of Mining and Technology)Ministry of EducationXuzhouChina
  2. 2.School of Safety EngineeringChina University of Mining and TechnologyXuzhouChina
  3. 3.College of Mining & Safety EngineeringShandong University of Science & TechnologyQingdaoChina

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