Spontaneous combustion, or self-heating, of coal

  A naturally occurring process caused by the oxidation of coal. It is most common in low-rank coals and is a potential problem in storing and transporting coal for extended periods. Factors involved in spontaneous combustion include the size of the coal (the smaller sizes are more susceptible), the moisture content, and the sulfur content. Heat buildup in stored coal can degrade the quality of coal, cause it to smolder, and lead to a fire.
  U.S. Dept. of Energy, Energy Information Administration's Energy Glossary

Energy terms . 2014.

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