Sino-German Coal Fire Research
Begin of project: April 1, 2003
End of project: February 28, 2010
Status of project: March 19, 2007
Coal fires are well known from all over the world, e.g. in the USA (Centralia Mine, Pennsylvania), India (Jharia Region) and China (Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Ningxia Province). Large amounts of coal are burnt to ashes or are become unusable. Beside these economic losses, large amounts of greenhouse gases are emitted and present a potential hazard for the population.
Coal fires can emerge from spontaneous self-combustion or are a result of extraneous causes. Spontaneous combustion is a consequence of oxidation processes in coal piles or heaps. These exothermic processes result in increasing temperatures within the rock pile which finally lead to the spontaneous ignition of the coal. Other sources of coal fires are related to careless mining operations, e.g. underground blasting, welding or grinding or natural events like strokes of lightning.
The overall aim of the interdisciplinary research project „Sino-German Coal Fire Research“ is to fully understand the processes leading to and influencing the development of coal seam fires in the special regional environment of North-China. Extensive scientific studies comprising remote sensing, geology, geophysics chemistry and mining contribute to the project.
In 2004 BGR took part in a helicopter-borne survey from the airport of Wuhai, situated about 25 km north of the test area. The objective was try to to detect and map coal fires by means of electromagnetic measurements. During the summer field campaign 2005 a corresponding ground geophysical survey was completed.
Extensive measurements of the combustion gases revealed the identification and classification of different combustions processes. In June 2005 a permanent monitoring station measuring temperatures, combustion gas concentrations and meterological data was installed. The different coals occuring in the test areas were comprehensively studied (coal petrography and chemical analysis).
In the second phase of this project (2007-2010) the focus will change from fire probing to fire extinction using innovative methods. Another new focal point will be the quantification of gases produced by coal fires and the verification of extinction measures. This work is necessary to resolve conditions for extinction and emission reduction certificates. A circle of representatives from the German industry accompanying the project will be informed about the results and will give suggestions for further work. The final aim is to get the German industry involved in extinguishes and to provide access to the trade of CO2 emission certificates.
Within this project funded by BMBF, BGR contributes to the specific subject of geo-environmental and natural resources protection.
- Airborne- and Ground Geophysics for exploration and monitoring of coal fires
- Coal Petrography & Fuel Chemistry
- Gas Geochemistry of Combustion Gases
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