Detecting Fires in Coal Piles and Other Exothermic Materials

banner coal pile

Many bulk materials, such as coal and organic wastes, are stored as large piles in open yards where air and moisture promote decomposition and exothermic reactions that raise the pile’s temperature. Since self-ignition usually starts within the pile’s lower layers, a full-blown fire can develop before it becomes apparent due to smoke and flames. In addition to material loss, these events can cause monetary loss due to equipment and structural damage from fire fighting activities.

FLIR’s Bulk Material Combustion Warning Systems use an infrared camera to generate a thermographic image of the area being monitored. This clearly shows hot spots on a remote video or PC monitor in real time and triggers an alarm. This application flyer describes how these systems can be designed and used to save hundreds of thousands of dollars by preventing loss before a fire happens.

thermal coal piles


Why Infrared is So Effective

All objects emit thermal radiation in the infrared spectrum that is not seen by the human eye. IR cameras convert that radiation to a visual image that is calibrated to a temperature scale. This non-contact temperature data can be displayed on a monitor, and can also be sent to a digital storage device for analysis. Measurement accuracy is typically ±2°C.

In our Bulk Material Combustion Warning Systems FLIR IR video cameras produce the visual images and non-contact temperature data. Unlike visible image cameras that may detect smoke, IR video cameras do not require lighting to produce their images, and can see hot spots well before smoke or flames appear. They can be mounted in all-weather housings and placed on pan/tilt drive mechanisms to survey extensive storage piles. With different focal length lenses, they can be placed wherever required. Therefore, they support 24/7 monitoring in all environments and locations.



Download detailed project information: Coal_Pile_Monitoring_Whitepaper.pdf