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XRF Solutions for Coal Trace Element Determination

Despite concerted efforts to improve the sustainability of the energy sector, combustion of fossil fuels remains one of the largest contributors to the global energy supply. Coal has been a ubiquitous combustible fuel throughout human history, used for direct heating and electricity generation. The ongoing use of coal as an energy source is contentious, primarily due to the level of pollutants generated from coal-burning on an industrial scale. Inhaling coal particulates can cause a host of respiratory problems and diseases, with a significant impact on the lifespan of millions of individuals worldwide.

Quantifying the trace elements in coal and in coal combustion residuals such as bottom and fly ash, slag, and other by-products can support the characterization of concentrated pollutants following coal burning. X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometers are regularly used to the assess elemental composition of coal by-products on the trace and ultra-trace scales, providing comprehensive characterizations of distinct coal species and generated pollutants.

XRF solutions can provide a benchmark for determining the waste products generated by burning different types of coal under varying conditions, supporting novel burner, boiler, and flue designs. XRF solutions are also suitable for trace element determination of coal by-products in clean coal gasification facilities.

XRF Solutions for Coal Sample Preparation

Organic matter becomes coalified through thousands of years’ worth of pressure, a process that radically alters the physiochemical characteristics of the resultant fossil fuel. This results in high chemical varieties of distinct coal species with common trace elements including germanium (Ge), chromium (Cr), molybdenum (Mo), arsenic (As), and lead (Pb). XRF solutions can provide a reliable platform for monitoring these minerals to the parts per billion (ppb) range.

An XRF spectrometer can measure the elemental composition of analytes without sample preparation, however this often does not provide an accurate homogenous representation of combustion slags or flue ash. This is due to surface area variations that can cause significant error analysis.

XRF solutions for coal by-product sample preparation include mechanical jaw crushers, industrial fusion machines, and high-purity lithium borate fusion flux mixtures. This array of instruments enables industrial by-products to be processed under sanitary conditions and treated with a catalytic fusion mixture of highly-discernible ratios. The fusion furnace then incubates the sample and prepares it as a liquid, or a fused bead, disc, or pellet. In a combined method, these XRF solutions provide a near-perfect representation of the homogenous XRF reaction.

XRF analysis of coal combustions slags and flue ash enables the accurate assessment of coal-mineral associations, to reduce harmful emissions that can have life-threatening pollutive effects. This advanced technology is also routinely applied to assess the different characteristics of slags in coal feedstock gasification.

XRF Solutions from XRF Scientific

XRF Scientific is one of the world-leaders in sample preparation, providing XRF solutions for advanced industrial applications across the world. Our method development services and instruments have already been used to establish accurate XRF sample preparation methodologies for iron ore and concrete. We are prepared to develop distinct methodologies for preparing coal samples for the energy sector.

If you would like any more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.