Experimental and numerical investigations of ignition of coal layers are presented in this study. ASTM E2021 standard hot surface test set up is employed in the experiments. Thermocouples at several locations have been employed to measure the time history of the temperatures. Ignition is observed to start at a location near to the confining ring and the hot plate at the bottom. Numerical simulations with averaged property values and Arrhenius type ignition source term parameters estimated from the experimental results itself indicate under-prediction of the temperature, even though the variation trend is captured well. The numerical simulations show the start point and propagation of the ignition phenomena in the coal dust layer. © 2009 Combustion Institute. All rights reserved.