Coal Pile Management

RPM Solutions brings a deep wealth of mining and machining experience to every coal pile management project.Coal pile management should begin with RPM Solutions, based in Lexington, Kentucky, serving clients throughout the eastern half of the United States. Effective coal pile management mandates keeping coal pile moisture as low as possible. Sealing coal piles against moisture and oxygen is the only practical way of preventing the deterioration of stored coal. Unsealed, coal piles are likely to have lower BTU values, burn less efficiently and bear the ravages of freezing and oxidation. RPM Solutions will keep you in compliance with the increasingly stringent guidelines set forth by the EPA and other regulatory agencies.

A coal stockpile is a pile or storage location for bulk materials. More controlled stockpiles are used in many different areas and are formed using stackers to form piles along the length of a conveyor and reclaimers to retrieve coal when required for product loading.

Spontaneous combustion is a common occurrence when storing coal for extended periods of time. This may be problematic when stockpiling waste/spoil materials that contain large quantities of coal. Coal naturally oxidizes over time. This causes an exothermic reaction that produces heat. The reaction is accelerated by the addition of further heat (sunlight, hot winds, etc.) If the heat from the coal oxidizing is trapped, it will continue to self-heat and will eventually rise above the ignition temperature. Once the ignition temperature is reached, the risk of spontaneous combustion is extremely high.

Mitigating the effects of factors responsible for augmentation of spontaneous combustion of coal:

  • Proper selection of particle size distribution. If the stockpile is of mainly medium to fine particle then making it finer will help.
  • Avoiding segregation by eliminating improper stacking.
  • Proper attention must be given to the preparation and maintenance of the stockpile.
  • Proper compaction. Air circulation within the stockpile should be restricted.
  • Moisture contributes to spontaneous combustion as it aids in the oxidation process.
  • Dimension of stockpile is critically important. Just dumping coal in a big pile might lead to problems.
  • Use of protective covering can help cut off oxygen in coming in contact with coal.

Monitoring coal pile management is critically important. An early warning system to prevent the onset of fire remains the best and most reliable solution. The following methods are proposed for the monitoring process:

  • Temperature recordings. Temperature below 50° C can be assumed considerably safe.
  • Continuous thermographic monitoring. Where a storage facility is large and difficult to access, a continuous and fully automated monitoring device can be employed.
  • Gas tests. To find the inertness of the surroundings and extent of depletion of oxygen subsurface gas tests are useful.

Monitoring is essential as a first measure for controlling spontaneous combustion of coal. Control measures need to be implemented when the temperature of the stockpile reaches to the level of 60°C to 70°C.

All of the preceding actions can and will help in saving coal as a commodity.

RPM Solutions, based in Lexington, Kentucky, is a reclamation, ash management and environmental services company using proprietary equipment technology and refined operating skills. When it comes to coal pile management, our operators bring a deep wealth of material handling and machining experience to every project. We differentiate ourselves through our advanced skills and preparation. RPM Solutions’ commitment to detail is the most important component of our success. For more information about putting the services of RPM Solutions to work regarding effective coal pile management, contact us at