Our future power requirements are expected to rise exponentially. This puts high pressure on the industrial energy sector to mine more coal as well as use more of it to produce electricity. Coal stockpiles present a huge fire risk due to the presence of highly combustible material and large self-loading pressures. In such a situation, if a potential fire is detected early and extinguished immediately, millions of dollars’ worth of coal can be saved every year. In thermal power plants in particular, down time can be disastrous since they act as the basic pillars for a base load supply.

Figure: Thermal image of scaled coal stockpile.

At InterNext, our team of engineers have developed a high tech system of early fire detection in coal stockpiles. This system has been successfully tested and deployed and with outstanding results.

The automated system consists of thermal imaging cameras positioned on tall fixed mounts located at strategic locations around the coal storage area. These cameras can be connected to the base station using wireless links to transmit the thermal image of the stockpile in real time. An automated and programmable software will be provided to analyze this data feed and raise alarms to the automated response system, if necessary, based on the coal temperature and ambient conditions. The system will be able to point the location of the hot-spot in the coal stockpile so that decisive preventive action can be taken to prevent a large scale ignition event.


The system can be completely automated, such that the information from the imaging system is transferred to an automated response system.

There will be several direct and indirect impacts of implementation of this advanced system:

  • Reduction of fire events can save significant amounts of coal from burning and translate into direct saved cost to the company.
  • Continuous monitoring of coal temperatures and their immediate reporting will lead to significant reduction in fire hazards. This will increase the safety of workers and equipment in the near vicinity.
  • Burning of coal, particularly in anaerobic conditions such as within a stockpile or indoor storage, can cause the formation of poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) gas. This invisible, odorless gas can cause loss of consciousness with as little as 200 ppm concentration in air. A reduction in fires will reduce CO levels near the mines.
  • Due to an increasing focus on manufacturing sector, worker and environment safety is bound to be an important consideration in future Government policies. This system will represent a proactive move towards high safety standards.