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Importance of Coal

Uses of Coal
Origin of Coal
Constituents of Coals
Characteristics of Different Coals
Testing Of Coal
Selection of Coal for Different Uses
Combustion of Coal

Types of Fuels

A substance which produces heat is called a Fuel. There are
three types of fuels namely
1. Solid fuels
2. Liquid fuels
3. Gaseous Fuels.
Fuels in each general division are further classified as
(I) Primary
(II) Secondary fuels.
Primary fuels are those which occur in nature e.g. Coal,
Wood, Petroleum, Natural Gas etc.
Secondary Fuels are those which are derived from primary
fuels e.g. Charcoal, petrol, kerosene, blast furnace gas etc.

Coal is one such primary fuel which
comes under the category of solid

It is also called Fossil fuel.

Fossil fuels are those which have been
derived from fossil remains of plant
and animal life and are found in the
crust of the earth

Directly burning and getting heat
Generating steam for generating electricity
Manufacturing Coal gas (e.g. Coke oven gas,
producer gas etc)
Gasification to produce nitrogenous fertilizer.
Production of Activated carbon
Powdered coal is used in dynamites
Used for making carbon brushes.
Used as pigments for paints
For making carbon electrodes, battery parts etc.

Coal is complex mixture of plant substances
differ in varying degree by physical and
chemical processes. These processes which
changed plant substances into coal has taken
million of years and has been accomplished by
bacteria, heat and pressure inside the earth
Two theories have been suggested by the
Geologists regarding the mechanism of
formation of Coal from plant substances.
In situ theory: According
to this theory, Coal seam
occupies the same site
where the original plants
grew and where their
remains accumulated
several million years ago
to produce coal under the
action of heat, pressure
and bacteria.

Drift Theory: According
to this theory, the plants
trees etc were uprooted
and drifted (transported)
by rivers to lakes to get
deposited there to form
Coal during the course of
time after they got buried
underground. Indian coals
are formed according to
drift theory in general.

The different stages in the formation of
Coal from plant matters (called peat to
anthracite series) are as follows:

Plant debris



Sub-bituminous coal

Bituminous Coal

Semi-anthracite coal

Anthracite coal


It denotes the maturity of coal.
Here peat is the most immature coal
hence is of lowest rank, whereas
anthracite is the most matured coal
hence of the highest rank.

Coalification or
The process of conversion of lignite to
anthracite is called Coalification or
metamorphism of coal.

1. Moisture
2. Volatile Matter
3. Ash
4. Fixed Carbon
5. Nitrogen
6. Hydrogen
7. Sulphur
8. Oxygen

Owing to its nature, origin and
occurrence coal is always having some
moisture. When a wet coal is exposed to
atmosphere the external moisture evaporates
but the dry coal still contains some moisture
which can be removed only by heating above
C. External moisture is also called
accidental or free moisture while inherent
moisture is called equilibrium or air dried
A high moisture content is undesirable
It reduces the caloric value of the coal.
It increases the consumption of coal for heating
It lengthens the time of heating.
We pay for it when coal is purchased or
Note: But in certain cases moisture is
deliberately added so as to check dust
nuisance while loading, unloading,
transporting and charging it into oven

Certain Gases like CO, CO
, CH
, H
, N
, O
hydrocarbons etc are present in coal which
comes out during its heating. These are called
the volatile matter of the coal.
With increase in maturity or rank of coal,
its volatile matter decreases
The coal with high volatile matter

Ignites easily i.e. it has lower ignition temperature
Burns with long smoky yellow flame
Has lower calorific value
Has a higher tendency of catching fire when
stored in open space.

Coal contains mineral matters which are
converted into Ash by chemical reactions
during the combustion of coal. It comprises
mainly of silica, alumina and ferric oxide with
varying amounts of other oxides such as CaO,
MgO etc.

High Ash content is undesirable

is harder and stronger.
Has lower calorific value.
Produces more impurities in the blast furnace.


It is the pure carbon present in the coal.
Higher the fixed carbon content of the coal,
higher will be its caloric value
It increases the calorific value of
Coal. It is associated with the volatile
matter of coal
The presence of inert nitrogen
decreases the calorific value of coal.

Though the presence of Sulphur
increases the calorific value of coal but it
has several undesirable effects. The
oxidation product of Sulphur (e.g. SO
etc) especially in the presence of
moisture causes corrosion of the
equipment and cause atmospheric
Less oxygen content, the better is coal as it
reduces its calorific value. As the oxygen
content of the coal increases its moisture
holding capacity increases and the caking
power decreases.
Other constituents of coal are
phosphorous and chlorine which
are present in very small quantity

Sampling of Coal
- A coal rake contains 58 to 59 coal wagons
- A single wagon has 60-65 tons of coal
- Sample has to be taken as per the FSA terms
and conditions.
- Sample is to be taken in Laminated Jute or
Plastic Gunny Bags.
- Samples are to be sealed.
- Approx 350 Kg of coal sample is taken as
representative sample from coal rake.
- From this after crushing and grinding 2
samples are prepared.
- One sample for testing/analysis
- Other part is as reference sample.
Testing of Coal

Proximate Analysis
Proximate analysis means finding out the weight
percentages of moisture, ash, volatile matter and fixed ash.
This analysis gives the approximate composition of the
main constituents of coal and is useful in deciding its
utilization for particular purpose.

Ultimate Analysis
Ultimate analysis means finding out the weight
percentages of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and
sulphur of the pure coal free from moisture and inorganic
constituents. This analysis is useful to the designer of coal
burning equipments and auxiliaries.

Testing procedure for
Proximate analysis
Total Moisture (ARB):-
10 g of crushed coal is collected after
passing through 3 mm crusher. Sample is then
dried in an oven at temperature 108+2
C for 2
hours. Total moisture %age is calculated from
the loss in weight.

1 1.5 g of above sample is dried in an
oven at temperature of 108+2
C for 1 1.5
hour till constant weight. Inherent moisture
%age is calculated from the loss in weight.

1-2 g of above sample is put in furnace
with temperature rise from room temp to
C in 30 mins and to 815+10
C in further
30-60 mins and maintain at this temperature
for 60 mins. Ash % is calculated by weight of

Volatile Matter
1 g of above sample is taken in VM crucible
fitted with a lid and kept in pre heated furnace
at temp. 900+ 10
C for a period of 7 mins in
absence of air. VM % is calculated by loss in
weight and exclusion of Inherent moisture.
Fixed Moisture
= 100 - (Inherent moisture% + Ash % + VM %)

Equilibrated Moisture
(Rh 60 % & Temp 40
-5 g of coal sample is taken in a beaker and 20 ml
of DM water is used to boil the sample for about
15 mins. Visible water is removed by filtration.
- 1.5 g of wet coal is put in glass dish and is kept in
a Desiccators containing sulphuric acid of sp
gravity 1.28 that gives Relative humidity of 60% at
temperature of 40 deg C.
-Sample is kept for 72 hrs with breaking of lumps
after each 24 hrs period. This sample is analyzed
in similar manner to inherent moisture
Equilibrated Ash %
= [(100- Eq Moist)/(100-Inh Moist)]x Ash%(ADB)

= [(100- Eq Moist)/(100-Inh Moist)]xVM% ADB

Calorific Value (CV)
The amount of heat liberated by the
combustion of unit quantity of fuel is called its
calorific value. Units of calorific value are
Gross Calorific Value (GCV)
Net Calorific Value (NCV)

Gross Calorific Value (GCV)
Gross calorific value is the quantity of heat
liberated by combusting fuel at constant volume
in oxygen saturated with water vapor, the original
material and final products of combustion being
at reference temperature (25
C) and the water
obtained from the fuel being in the liquid state.
Internationally Gross Calorific Value (GCV) is used
as an important parameter for Coal trading. GCV
determination is done by using bomb calorimeter.

Net Calorific Value (NCV)

Net Gross calorific value is the quantity of
heat evolved when unit quantity of fuel is burnt
at constant volume in oxygen saturated with
water vapor, the original material and final
products of combustion being at reference
temperature (25
C) and the water obtained from
the fuel being in the vapor state. The net calorific
value is therefore less than gross calorific value
by amount corresponding to the heat of
condensation of water vapors.

=[(100- Eq Moist)/(100-Inh Moist)]x GCV (Bomb)
Ultimate Analysis
Ultimate Analysis of coal is generally not
done in day to day operation of any plants as
this analysis is comes handy while designing
the boiler, firing system and for combustion

Coal Moist
VM (%) FC
(%) O


15-25 3-10 50-55 25-30 55-60 6-6.5 30-35 1.5-2 0.6-1
10-30 3.5-7.5 40-45 30-35 70-73 4.6-5.5 22-26 0.6-1 0.6-1.5
12-25 5-18 35-40 20-40 70-78 4.5-5.5 10-20 0.2-0.8 0.2-0.6
2.5-10 12-30 20-45 25-45 75-90 4.9-5.8 4-12 0.5 0.7
0.5-5 10-29 13-18 40-60 91-93 3.9-4.2 0.4-3 0.2 0.5
GCV by Formula
1. If Air dried moisture > 2%
GCV=85.56 (100-1.1 Ash+Moist)-60xMoist

2. If Air dried moisture is < 2%
GCV= 91.67 FC +75.56(VM-0.1Ash)-60xMoist

In India and Internationally Grading and
Pricing of coal is done on the basis of GCV of

Grade ASH %

Grade Steel I Up to Ash 15%

Grade Steel II > 15 < 18

Grade W I > 18 < 21

Grade W II >21 < 24

Grade W III > 24 < 28

Grade W IV > 28 <35

Grading on GCV Bands
GCV Range (Kcal/Kg)
Exceeding 7000
Exceeding 6700 and not exceeding 7000
Exceeding 6400 and not exceeding 6700
Exceeding 6100 and not exceeding 6400
Exceeding 5800 and not exceeding 6100
Exceeding 5500 and not exceeding 5800
Exceeding 5200 and not exceeding 5500
Exceeding 4900 and not exceeding 5200
Exceeding 4600 and not exceeding 4900
Exceeding 4300 and not exceeding 4600

GCV Grade
G 1
GCV Bands Price of Coal
GCV Bands
G 1

Price of Coal
Calorimeter for GCV
Parts of Bomb Calorimeter

Selection of Coal for
Different Uses

A good coal should have
Low ash content
High calorific value
Small percentage of Sulphur
Good burning characteristics (i.e. should burn
freely without agitation) so that combustion will
be complete.
High grindability index
High weatherability.

Coal for metallurgical
Coal must be strong and hard
Have low ash, Sulphur and Phosphorous
Be consistent, i.e. of uniform quality

High volatile matter content so that gas yield
is more
Less ash content (around 8%).
Less Sulphur content (1-1.2%)
Weak coking properties.
High ash fusion temperature so that clinker
formation can be avoided
Coal for Steam Generation
Coals used in boilers for burning and
generating steam are called steam coal.
Almost all other types of coal which are not
suitable for carbonization or gasification can
be used for steam generation. Even coal
having ash content as high as 45% can also be
used in the boiler.
Coal for Combustion Practices
Calorific value should be high
Ash content should be low
Moisture should be low
Uniform size is desirable, fine dust and large
lumps are objectionable.
Successive deliveries of coal should be as far
as possible of same quality.

On the basis of
Ash Fusion Temperature
Class I : Coals whose ash does not fuse at
Class II : Coals whose ash fusion temperature
are between 1427
C to 1204
Class III : Coals whose ash fusion temperature
are below 1204

Class III coals are considered to be the worst
from the point of view of clinker formation
and should never be used for boiler firing. The
clinkering properties of Class II coals depend
upon the nature of mineral matter in the coal.
Class I coals are the best from the point of
view of clinker formation and can be used for
boiler firing without any trouble.

-All conventional Fossil fuels basically contain carbon
and/or hydrogen and Sulphur which when burn react
with oxygen of air forming carbon dioxide, carbon
monoxide or water vapor. Coal main constituents are
carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, Sulphur, moisture
and ash.

- Coal is generally burned in pulverized form.

Combustion of Coal with oxygen or air at high
temperature is an exothermic reaction which
liberates heat

Combustion Chemistry

Carbon (complete combustion)
The complete combustion of carbon may be
expressed by
C + O
= CO

Or 1kg carbon+8/3 kg oxygen = 11/3 kg
carbon dioxide
(Exothermic Reaction)
Carbon (incomplete combustion)
2C + O
= 2CO
(Endothermic Reaction)
Similarly sulphur and hydrogen reacts with
oxygen to produce SO
and H
Combustion Process
The requirements for combustion are:
-The 3 Ts
In thermal Power stations Coal is generally
used as a fuel to produce heat. Coal is used in
pulverized form i.e. Coal is grinded to powder
form with the help of Ball Mills.
Oil, Gas, Wood, Domestic Waste are some
other Fuels.

Normal Source of oxygen for combustion is air.
Air is mixture of nitrogen, oxygen and water
vapor with very small amount of inert gases.
Air contains 79% nitrogen by volume and 21%
Nitrogen doesnt enter into combustion process
A large amount of air must be delivered to the
combustion process to get the required amount
of oxygen.

Sufficient time must be available for complete
combustion to occur. This time period is
significant because of dilution effect of
nitrogen in the air
When fuel reaches its ignition temperature
oxidation is greatly accelerated. The fuel/air
mixture must be heated to ignition
temperature to promote combustion. The
approximate ignition temperature for coal is
Ignition temperature of Oil is 260
C, Wood
C, Hydrogen 565
C, CO 650

It is very important that the fuel and air
are thoroughly mixed otherwise complete
combustion cannot take place and turbulent
mixing is the best approach to this problem.

Theoretical Air
The minimum amount of air required for the
complete combustion of a Fuel.
It is calculated on the basis of chemical
equations involved in combustion.
But it is difficult to achieve the complete
combustion with theoretical air.

Air in excess is always used because whole of
air supplied for combustion purposes doesnt
come in contact with the fuel completely and
as such a portion of fuel may be left unburnt.
But if a large quantity of excess air is used it
imparts a cooling effect on combustion
process which can be avoided by preheating
the air
Primary Air
The amount of air which is used to carry
the coal and dry it before entering into the
combustion chamber is known as Primary Air
Secondary Air
the amount of air required to complete the
combustion. It is supplied directly to the
combustion chamber. The resulting turbulence
helps the uniform mixing of fuel and air.
Major Efficiency Losses
Losses due to Exit Gas Temperature
- a reduction of approx 22
C in flue gas
temperature results in increase of 1% increase
in efficiency
Losses due to Excess Air
- By reducing the excess air, volume of flue
gases reduces and hot gases spend more time
in contact with heat transfer surfaces.