The Coal Research Forum was formed over twenty years ago to bring together all of those with interests in coal research and to promote these interests within the UK.
The Forum began life in late 1988 when two groups, one representing the energy industries (Energy Industries Research Liaison Group) and the other representing the academic community, met to discuss the formation of a body to promote coal science and engineering in the UK. The resulting group, the founding executive committee of the Coal Research Forum, began by organising a major symposium on the co-ordination of basic research on coal in the UK.
Following the success of the first meeting and the overwhelming desire of the participants to form the Coal Research Forum, the next step was to establish what coal research work was currently being carried out in the UK and more importantly what needed to be done. This was achieved by the formation of a number of research divisions to encourage contact between academic and industrial researchers working in the same research areas.
These research divisions now include combustion, advanced power generation, coal conversion, coal characterisation, environment and coal preparation. Regular meetings are held for each division to up-date members on current coal research issues in these areas.
The contributions made by members at these inaugural meetings were used to prepare the first edition of a "Coal Research Needs in the UK" document describing current research and coal research needs. Since then this document has been extensively revised and re-written with the latest edition being published in 2005. This document has been widely distributed in the UK and overseas particularly to funding bodies for coal research.
In parallel with this activity, a register of UK Coal Researchers was also produced which describes the research interests on coal of academic and industrial researchers in the UK. Since then, this initial register has been extensively revised and up-dated and now forms part of the CUSTNET (Coal Utilisation Science and Technology NETwork) database which includes entries from nine European countries.
The Forum issues three editions each year of a newsletter to keep members and their organisations fully informed of forthcoming events and activities and to facilitate and encourage participation in both these Forum events and a wider Forum membership. More recently the Forum has created this website which contains a calendar of future events, the latest editions of the Forum newsletters and many other of the Forum documents.
The Forum has organised a wide scope of events which have included presentations on the use of coal and the research issues for the utilities and the gas, steel, carbonisation and cement industries, presentations on policy and funding issues for coal research and many specific, such as environmental, issues. The Forum now holds a biennial three day conference on Coal Research and its Applications.
Although much has been achieved since the formation of the Forum, the future holds some significant challenges for coal utilisation and research. The Forum will continue to contribute to and encourage the development of a national policy for research on coal in the UK and promote coal and energy research particularly to the funding bodies. The Forum will continue to encourage and promote the submission of proposals on coal research and to record successful applications for this funding. The dissemination and exchange of information on coal research will continue to be encouraged together with the further development of co-ordination of coal research activities through joint activities between coal research groups and others. The Forum will continue to publish the achievements and successes of coal research in the UK.