ICC’s predecessor is the Laboratory of Coal, one of the laboratories of the Dalian-based Institute of Industrial Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). In 1954, this laboratory directly reported to CAS headquarter. In June 1959, CAS made a decision to move the Laboratory to Taiyuan, Shanxi, a coal-rich province. After two-year construction at its new site in Taiyuan, the relocation was completed in late 1961, and upon expansion, the laboratory was renamed as the Institute of Coal Chemistry (ICC), CAS.

1954 is therefore regarded as the year of the foundation of ICC.

In 1966, CAS changed ICC’s name to the Institute of Fuel Chemistry, and merged the Tianjin-based North China Institute of Chemistry into ICC. 

In 1970, the Institute of Fuel Chemistry has been transferred from CAS to the Ministry of Fuel Chemistry and Industry. Subsequently, in 1971, the institute was again transferred to Shanxi Bureau of Coal Industry. Correspondingly, its name was changed to Shanxi Institute of Fuel Chemistry. 

In May 1978, Shanxi provincial government changed the institute’s name again to Shanxi Institute of Comprehensive Utilization of Coal, subordinating to Shanxi Science and Technology Commission. Four months later, in September 1978, the institute was returned under CAS’s lead and renamed as the Shanxi Institute of Coal Chemistry (still abbreviated as ICC), CAS. Since then, ICC has held its subsidiary position as one of CAS’ high-tech R&D institutes till now, featuring energy, chemical engineering and advanced materials.