Nature of the porosity in American coals

H.Gan, S.P.Nandi, P.L.Walker Jr

Abstract: The nature of the porosity in a number of 40 × 70 (i.e. − 40 + 70) mesh size American coals, varying in rank from anthracite to lignite, has been studied using the following characterization techniques: gas adsorption, helium and mercury displacement, and mercury porosimetry. Surface areas calculated from carbon dioxide adsorption at 298 K are consistently higher than those calculated from nitrogen at 77 K, indicating the molecular sieve character of the coals. Total pore volumes have been measured in the diameter range 12–29 600 Å and then divided into macropores (300-29 600 Å), transitional pores (12–300 Å), and micropores (4–12 Å). Coals vary widely in their total pore volumes (porosities range between 4.1 and 23.2%). In the lower-rank coals (carbon content less than 75%), porosity is primarily due to the presence of macropores. In coals having a carbon content in the range 76–84%, about 80% of the total open pore volume is due to micro and transitional pores, whereas in the coals of higher carbon content microporosity predominates. Coals having about 35–55% of their total open pore volume in the transitional range are expected to be most suitable for use for adsorption of organic molecules from solution. Thus, they are of interest as possible materials to be used in water purification. In general, these results are considered to be of importance in understanding the extent and rate of interaction of coals with gases and liquids.

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