Technical Market Support

Synthetic Sulphur Calibrant Method

Technical Market Support » Metallurgical Coal

Published: October 13Project Number: C19050

Get ReportAuthor: Danny Hibbert and Nick Miller | HRL Technology

Stage 2 (August 2014)

In this project extension, the method for determination of sulphur in coal using a synthetic calibrant was further developed and validated for suitability in an ILS.  The current SA (Standards Australia) method AS 1038.6.3.3 for Total Sulfur was modified to include this use of this synthetic calibrant for instrument calibration.


Results received from all 17 labs involved in the ILS were evaluated statistically, with significant consideration given to the accuracy and precision data so that a decision can be made regarding progression of the method for incorporation into the Australian standard AS1038.6.3.3.  As part of the evaluation of accuracy and precision, values for these key indicators from the SA and ISO methods were used to benchmark the ILS results.


During closer examination of the ILS results, it was observed that the determined sulphur values from several labs were close to the true values for all samples, which indicated that the method was sound, but that more research is needed to identify the reasons as to why the results were not consistent across all 17 labs.


A further statistical analysis was performed on results from 4 selected labs and a statistical evaluation of this data set indicated that results were sufficiently accurate to justify further work on the method, which should lead to progression to an Australian standard method.


Stage 1 (January 2012)

Sulphur is a key parameter in the trading of coal and it is therefore most important that accurate determination of sulphur levels is maintained into the future. This is particularly so as new rapid instrumental methods of determination continue to take over from classical methods of analysis. Calibration of these analysers is currently performed using certified reference coals, but there is growing concern over the accuracy of their sulphur values, due to transfer of small analysis errors (systematic errors) from old to new reference coals. It should be noted that many of these instrumental techniques including those used for the determination of sulphur are comparators and the accuracy of the calibration of these is dependent upon the accuracy of the analyte value ascribed to the reference coal.


Research is presented here to validate an instrumental method for analysis of sulfur in coal following calibration using a synthetic calibrant. Introduction of such methods would gradually eliminate the use of potentially inaccurate reference coals as calibrants for the analysers used in instrumental methods of sulphur analysis. The work completed in this study includes:

· The search for suitable sulphur compounds;

· The preparation and evaluation of suitable calibrants;

· Laboratory trialling of a potentially new analysis procedure.


A method was developed to calibrate a typical instrumental sulphur determinator, which was then used to analyse coal samples of known sulphur contents. The developed method was found to be capable of determination of sulphur values with similar levels of precision to those currently measured by instrumental sulphur determinators, which were calibrated with certified reference coals according to AS1038.6.3.3. Further work is required to complete validation of the method, but once fully validated and introduced to the coal industry, accuracy in sulphur determinations should be improved, as any systematic errors will be removed from methods requiring calibration with certified reference coals.

The additional method validation work required includes further work on high sulphur content coals, more testing of synthetic calibrant stability, completion of an inter laboratory testing program on a set of coals with known sulphur contents and development of a draft Standards Australia method to determine sulphur in coal using a synthetic calibrant method. Following likely development of a new Standards Australia method, it is also recommended that relevant Standards Australia methods that require calibration with reference coals be withdrawn or suitably changed.


It is further recommended that in order to eliminate possible errors associated with production of the synthetic calibrant by commercial laboratories, batches of the calibrant should be prepared, validated and marketed to the Australian coal industry by a qualified authority. However any new standard method will include methodology for preparation of this synthetic calibrant.


Health and safety, productivity and environment initiatives.

Recently Completed Projects

C27052Site Trial And Demonstration Of Integrated Forward And Reverse Osmosis For Mine Water Reuse

The forward osmosis (FO) process, also known as direct osmosis, is a...

C28022Development Of A Simple Rotary Steerable System For Underground Inseam Drilling

The purpose of this project was to complete the design and testing o...

C21002Measurement And Reporting Of Fugitive Emissions From Underground Coal Mines

The National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007 (Act), the ...


Open Cut

Safety, productivity and the right to operate are priorities for open cut mine research.

Recently Completed Projects

C28034Mining Equipment Human Factors Design For Workforce Diversity

The objectives of the project were to:

Open Cut

Coal Preparation

Maximising throughput and yield while minimising costs and emissions.

Recently Completed Projects

C27025Quantifying The Step-Change Benefit Of Reflux Flotation Cell Circuits

The objective of this project was to quantify the value proposition ...

C24047Characterisation Of Pressure (Hyperbaric) Filter Performance

Hyperbaric disc filter technology has been used to dewater fine coal...

C28058Phase Two Development Of A Low Cost Online Measurement Of Particle Size And Density For Diagnostics Across The Fine Coal Circuit (Particle Profiler)

This project is based around the development of a prototype system (...

Coal Preparation

Technical Market Support

Market acceptance and emphasising the advantages of Australian coals.

Recently Completed Projects

C26039Nanoporosity In Cokes: Their Origin, Control And Influence On CO2 Reactivity

This project using the outcomes of previous project C24060, examine...

C28063A Comprehensive Technical Review Of High-Efficiency Low-Emission (HELE) Pulverised Coal Combustion Technologies For Power Generation

Research and development has been undertaken worldwide to realise co...

C28064Carbon Structure Transformation During Coking Of Australian Coking Coals: Better Understanding The Coke Formation

Carbon structures of coke that are formed during the plastic layer a...

Technical Market Support

Mine Site Greenhouse Gas Mitigation

Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from the production of coal.

Recently Completed Projects

C28076Selective Absorption Of Methane By Ionic Liquids (SAMIL) - Phase 2 Demonstration In A Packed Bed Reactor

An alternative approach to high temperature oxidation of ventilation...

C26004CFD Modelling Of Reverse Thermal Oxidisers For VAM Abatement - CFD Modelling Of Fixed-Bed RTO Devices

The project is part of a larger multi‐phase program of study a...

C27058Technological Assessment Of A Recycle Reactor For VAM Abatement

Underground coal mining emits high volumes of methane, diluted in ve...

Mine Site Greenhouse Gas Mitigation

Low Emission Coal Use

Step-change technologies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Recently Completed Projects

C17060BGasification Of Australian Coals

Four Australian coals were trialled in the Siemens 5 MWth pilot scale ga...

C17060AOxyfuel Technology For Carbon Capture And Storage Critical Clean Coal Technology - Interim Support

The status of oxy-fuel technology for first-generation plant is indicate...

C18007Review Of Underground Coal Gasification

This report consists of a broad review of underground coal gasification,...

Low Emission Coal Use

Mining And The Community

The relationship between mines and the local community.

Recently Completed Projects

C16027Assessing Housing And Labour Market Impacts Of Mining Developments In Bowen Basin Communities

The focus of this ACARP-funded project has been to identify a number...

C22029Understanding And Managing Cumulative Impacts Of Coal Mining And Other Land Uses In Regions With Diversified Economies

The coal industry operates in the context of competing land-uses that sh...

C23016Approval And Planning Assessment Of Black Coal Mines In NSW And Qld: A Review Of Economic Assessment Techniques

This reports on issues surrounding economic assessment and analysis ...

Mining And The Community


National Energy Research,Development & Demonstration Council (NERDDC) reports - pre 1992.

Recently Completed Projects

1609-C1609Self Heating of Spoil Piles from Open Cut Coal Mines

Self Heating of Spoil Piles from Open Cut Coal Mines

1301-C1301Stress Control Methods for Optimised Development...

Stress Control Methods for Optimised Development and Extraction Operations

0033-C1356Commissioned Report: Australian Thermal Coals...

Commissioned Report: Australian Thermal Coals - An Industry Handbook