NUST MISIS Scientists Develop New Approach for the Evaluation of Coal Fuel Quality

The properties of extracted coal change with the passing of time, which greatly affects the quality of coal fuel, increases the production cost of electricity, and leads to additional environmental damage. Moreover, coal sometimes ignites spontaneously. The proper evaluation of coal fuel properties, as well as the risk of spontaneous combustion are just a few applied aspects of the work conducted by a group of NUST MISIS scientists led by Professor Svetlana Epshtein.

NUST MISIS scientists developed new approaches for studying the mechanism of coal oxidation, which can significantly affect Russia`s coal industry through the formation of prices on the coal market, as well as the ecology of coal regions. One of the approaches is based on the application of analyzing samples of modified thermogravimetry (thermal analyses) in air and inert atmosphere.

Obtaining further data will help to correctly determine coal conditions at extraction, as well as during its storage and use, which will increase the efficient use of coal fuel and thereby reduce its damage. The fact is, depending on the conditions of storage, the quantity of heat produced per ton of fuel can be reduced on average by 20% (for brown coal), which seriously increases the expenses of power engineers and the ecology of regions.

An article with the research results was published in the prestigious journal Fuel, a part of the Elsevier publishing group.

The article’s authors note that this publication is just a part of a larger comprehensive piece on the study of the structure, properties, and behavior of coal during its whole cycle: from extraction to use.

“Our laboratory has been researching coals for over ten years. The main goal of our work is to develop new approaches for the evaluation and quality of fossil coal to aid the search for new technologies for nonfuel processing, new methodical approaches for the evaluation of the safety of coal processing and use, as well as the assessment of possible and promising future directions for coals use (in particular, to obtain new materials from it). Work is carried out both on commercial contracts and through government funding. In particular, we have implemented two projects: the influence of coal oxidation on safety (from the point of the spontaneous combustion view) and the preservation of quality indicators of coal production during storage and transportation — projects 14.B37.21.0655 and 14.575.21.0062. Both projects were implemented through the framework of the Federal Target Program ‘Research and developments’. These are two applied aspects of our work. Additionally, new fundamental scientific approaches for the evaluation of the propensity of coals to oxidize were undertaken during our operations”, said head of the projects Professor Svetlana Epshtein, Doctor of Engineering Sciences, and head of the NUST MISIS Laboratory for Physics & Chemistry Coals.

Coal is perhaps the most heterogeneous ore mineral. Moreover, as the study showed, for weeks and months (sometimes up to six months), time which extracted coal spends in TPP warehouses between production and use, its properties change. That’s why for coal purchasers on the market, the accurate evaluation of the product, from the point of view of its preservation of the tendency to oxidize, is very important. The new methods will help to develop a classification of coal production, which will make the coal market more calculable and transparent.

“Research of NUST MISIS’s scientific-educational testing Laboratory for Physics & Chemistry Coal has huge importance for the Russian coal industry. More than 25 national and interstate standards in the fields of mineral fuels and absorbent carbons have already been developed based on the laboratory’s research. The NUST MISIS Laboratory for Physics & Chemistry Coal led by Professor Svetlana Epshtein, Doctor of Engineering Sciences, is one of our University`s leading laboratories, and it deals with the topics of mining waste management and the processing of mineral raw materials, often upon request of Russia`s leading coal corporations”, commented Alevtina Chernikova, Rector of NUST MISIS.