Coal and coal ash characteristics to understand mineral transformations and slag formation
Van Dyk, J.C.
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A knowledge of the composition and structure of minerals in coal is necessary in order to understand the mineral transformations and agglomerate or slag formation during combustion or gasification. Coal ash fusibility characteristics are difficult to determine precisely, partly because the ash contains many components with different chemical behaviours, and may vary from coal source to coal source. The first objective of this study was to determine if the most relevant characteristics of coal were representative of the typical coal from the South African Highveld region. Secondly, a detailed understanding of the coal and coal ash are needed in order to explain slag formation and mineral transformations. Based on standard coal properties, such as the ash content, volatile content, carbon content and maceral composition, it can be concluded that the coal sample used for this study was representative and comparable with the coal from the Highveld region. From the results obtained and the analysis done on the coal samples, it was observed that the mineral grains showed a wide range of types that ranged from pure coal to pure minerals. The types of mineral particles within the coal range from large irregular minerals to small irregular minerals on the edge of coal particles. Kaolinite and quartz can occur as fine inclusions in carbon rich particles or associated with mudstone, siltstone or sandstone, together with kaolinite infillings. The main minerals present in the coal feed are kaolinite, quartz, dolomite, calcite, muscovite, pyrite and microline. An abundance of calcium-rich particles, which are probably calcite and dolomite, were observed. These minerals are present throughout the coal structure and are not specific to one type of mineral grain or structure. An increase in Si and Al abundance in three different prepared coal fractions with increasing particle size distribution was observed the high density fractions are mainly situated in the coarser particles. After combustion or gasification, the major source of glass is derived from included minerals in carbon rich particles. It is clear that focus on the modification of the unclassified/amorphous phase, to increase viscosity (decrease slag formation or have a higher concentration of crystalline phases) at a certain temperature, or in general terms the ash fusion temperature of the coal, is important. Altering the ash chemistry involves the addition of a material to the coal to increase the viscosity
- Faculty of Engineering