The selective heating of pyrite in coal using microwave energy

Wardle, Peter (2011) The selective heating of pyrite in coal using microwave energy. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The objective of this research project was to investigate the effect of microwave treatment on the conversion of pyrite in coal in order to enhance its magnetic properties and to aid subsequent desulphurisation by magnetic separation. Key areas of this investigation include:- a review of the fundamental theoretical aspects of heating in an applied microwave field, a detailed literature survey of the potential applications of microwave heating to aid coal desulphurisation, a study of the transformation mechanisms of pyrite by microwave and conventional heating methods, a comprehensive review of the influence of heterogeneity on the dielectric properties of coals and the effect of high power microwave heating on the decomposition of pyrite in a high sulphur coal.

A detailed survey of the literature has shown that although a significant amount of work has been reported on the microwave heating of coal, little information is available which examines the mechanism through which different coals heat in an applied microwave field. A study is therefore presented in this thesis which quantifies, for the first time, the structural ordering of carbon in a range of coals of various ranks and the relationship with their dielectric properties. The results show a clear relationship between the structural ordering of carbon in coal and dielectric loss factor. Essentially, as the structural ordering increases, the level of free charge (per unit volume) increases together with electron mobility which results in an increase in dielectric loss factor.

The transformation of pyrite to form the more magnetic pyrrhotite and other related decomposition products by conventional radiant heating has been the focus of much research. However, little attention has been given to the effect of microwave heating on the mechanisms of pyrite transformation in inert and oxygen-containing atmospheres. The study presented in this thesis investigates the effect of temperature, particle size and heat treatment time to establish how these affect the transformation process and the subsequent nature of the final product. This study showed that exposure of pyrite to both conventional and microwave heating methods enhanced its magnetic properties as a result phase alterations at the particle surface. Conventionally heated pyrite samples showed the highest magnetic susceptibility increases, speculated to be due difficulties surrounding the temperature control and measurement of the microwave heated samples. From a review of the literature in this field of research and by SEM observations made for each sample test in this work a general pyrite transformation model as a result of microwave exposure is proposed.

The effect of microwave radiation on the conversion of in-situ coal derived pyrite was also investigated. The study presented here extends previous work by others by assessing quantitatively the influence of higher applied microwave power levels on the conversion of pyrite in coal. Samples of run-of-mine high pyritic sulphur content (~12%wt) Kentucky coal were microwave pre-treated at varying exposure times using 8kW and 15kW of microwave power operating at a frequency of 2.45GHz. This work included initial material characterisation which consisted of TGA, optical microscopy and dielectric property measurement, followed by SEM/EDAX characterisation of both microwave treated and untreated sample specimens. This is the first time that microwave treated coal, embedded in a carnauba wax mounting medium, has been observed by this method with focus on the thermal alterations of the pyrite phase. It was demonstrated that with sufficient power and residence time, the conversion of pyrite to the more magnetic pyrrhotite is achievable using microwave irradiation. The amount of pyrrhotite formed as a result of microwave exposure varies with microwave residence time and forward power level. Comparisons of change in the iron sulphide species in the coal was made between microwave treated and untreated material. Using a multimode microwave cavity it was found that significant amounts of pyrrhotite were formed in 20s when using 15kW of microwave power. Treatment at lower power levels in this type of cavity was found to be less effective. The overall effect of treatment on the coal proximate character was minimal.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Lester, E.
Kingman, S.
Subjects: T Technology > TN Mining engineering. Metallurgy
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering > Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering
Item ID: 12017
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2011 12:16
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2016 12:51

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