Fossil fuels play a vital role in the world of energy. Fight for energy sources are likely to be significant in emerging human history. The natural fuel deposits are limited. This gives great anxiety in our mind, and enhances the importance of fuel mining, economical use of fuel, and fuel research.
India is the third largest producer of coal in the world. Coal will remain as our most important fossil fuel for a very long time; our reserves may last for a century. Coal meets the biggest share of our energy needs.
It is used not only by the electricity sector, but by industries such as steel and cement. The role of coal in our energy security is unique. Issues such as low thermal efficiency, pollution, and enhanced greenhouse effect are of concern in large scale mining and consumption of coal. Acid mine drainage, huge land disturbance, noise, and vibrations are some of the other problems caused by coal mining operations.
The challenges posed have to be tackled through improved processes and procedures in coal handling and combustion. There are yet other issues such as human rights violation and rehabilitation linked to mining activities, which have to be studied and solutions evolved depending on the nature of each case.
The Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research is a relatively new institution of CSIR, aims at providing R&D inputs for the entire coal-energy chain from mining to consumption through integration of the core competencies of the two premier coal institutions of the country – (CFRI and CMRI): Central Fuel Research Institute and Central Mining Research Institute, both functioning at Dhanbad. CIMFR has units at Ranchi, Bilaspur, Nagpur, and Roorkee. Phone: 0326-2296023; Web: www.cmriindia.nic.in.
It provides basic research and R&D back up. It offers help in technology upgradation and adaptation to coal, mining, mineral based, and allied industries, ensuring high standards of safety, economy and cleaner environment. It aims at clean coal initiatives with focus on resource conservation, coal quality up-gradation and coal processing technology packages for power, steel, chemical feedstock, and liquid fuels. The institute covers the entire chain, ‘from mine to market'.
The important thrust areas of research and development are indicated below:
Development and adaptation of mass production technology in underground mining for safe and economic extraction of thick and / or steep seams; application of numerical methods to mining problems; excellence in coal petrology; coastal placer mining
Monitoring for gas and fire; wireless multimedia communication for Indian mines; application of ‘robots' in difficult and risky situations; detection and mapping of old and unapproachable workings and stabilisation of unstable areas; scientific support to ‘disaster management' specially in underground coal mines - quick detection of any increase in temperature; identification and demarcation of water bodies in mines; use of ground penetration radar to assess barrier; technology for location of trapped miners; design and installation of safety chambers where miners can take shelter.
Utilisation and disposal of fly ash; numerical-cum-statistical model for projecting environmental impacts of mining operation; wasteland management in mining areas
Establishing a centre for design and development of mine supports and mine equipment and other plant and processing equipment
Alternative energy sources coal bed methane underground coal gasification
Perfecting ground control technology for tunnelling and underground caverns
Optimising slope stability in open cast mines
Clean coal initiative
Innovative mining initiatives to exclude obvious dirt in coal data bank on permeability of coal in situ, sorption behaviour and gas diffusion characteristics for sequestration of CO2 in deep coals mines; advanced techniques including dry and wet beneficiation for upgradation of coal quality; improvement of efficacy of power generation to realise much of the installed capacity through use of beneficiated coal and have a recourse to more efficient power generation cycles including promotion of co-generation systems and near-zero emission technologies; gasification of high ash Indian coals for the generation of power, chemical feedstock and liquid fuels; co-combustion / co-gasification of coal with bio mass; oxy-fuel combustion and post combustion capture; direct liquefaction of high-sulphur Indian coals for generation of specification-grade liquid fuels.
Augmentation of better indigenous reductant for steel making and other metallurgical purposes for inferior coals
Design and development of energy efficient coke oven including power generation from waste heat
Development of coal-based value added carbons of varied specification
Reducing dependence on petroleum feed stocks through conversion of coal or organic wastes into synthetic fuel and other chemicals/feed stocks
Resource quality assessment in alliance with coal producing industries
Utilisation of discharged mine water for the community; socio-economic development of people residing in mining areas.