Technical Market Support » Thermal Coal
Coal contains a wide range of trace elements, predominantly associated with the various minerals which are the constituents of the inorganic matter. The mineral matter is the precursor of the ash formed during combustion.
Many trace elements present in coal are environmentally sensitive because of their potential adverse health and ecological effects. Coal-fired utilities are subject to legislative regulations designed to limit their impact on the environment.
Australia is the world's largest exporter of coal and international trade, particularly in thermal coal, is very competitive. A major advantage is that Australian thermal coals generally contain low levels of trace elements, particularly those of greatest environmental concern. This provides a competitive edge for our exports and aids in the establishment of long-term contracts.
The increasing concern about the impact on the environment requires coal producers and technologists to have a sound understanding of the role of trace elements arising from coal utilisation.
This report provides a general overview of various aspects of trace elements in coal related to coal use. It provides background information on the origin of trace elements, a new comprehensive database on the levels of environmentally sensitive trace elements in Australian and international thermal coals, the designation of trace elements of concern, their health concerns, analytical methods, deportment in combustion, characteristics of waste products, leaching of waste ash and an explanation of radioactivity found in coals. These are the major issues relating to the environmental impact of trace elements in coal utilisation.
The report is based on 20 years of research carried out by CSIRO Energy Technology through collaboration with the coal industry and electricity generators. Much of the data is "real world" having been obtained through collaborative research with industry and with financial support from ACARP.
The report provides the coal industry with an information handbook that will facilitate a better understanding of the major issues relating to the occurrence of trace elements in thermal coals.