The petrographic as well as the chemical and physical properties of the Mineral and Bevier coals of southeastern Kansas have been described in detail. Correlations which have been established are significant in the more effective utilization of the coals. The results of the study are summarized below.
(1) The average proximate chemical analysis (moisture- and ash-free basis) of the Mineral coal is 14,980 B.t.u., 5.1 percent sulfur, and 58.7 percent fixed carbon. The average ash content is 13.4 percent (moisture-free basis). The coal is remarkably uniform in composition. It is a high volatile A bituminous coal (A.S.T.M. rank designation) and should make a fair coke except for the high sulfur content. The average analysis of the Bevier coal is 14,690 B.t.u., 3.9 percent sulfur, 57.1 percent fixed carbon, and 17.7 percent ash. The rank and coking qualities are similar to those of the Mineral coal.
(2) The coals exhiibt a small, systematic regional variation in fixed carbon content which may be related to geologic structure. Fixed carbon increases from southwest to northeast.
(3) The coals were analyzed petrographically. They are finely banded attrital coals in which the anthraxylon bands do not exceed 5 mm in width, fusain is conspicuous, and opaque attritus is a relatively minor constituent. The types of coal and the percentage of components have been shown graphically for 22 column samples. The coals are bright coals which may contain thin bands of splint or semisplint coal near the top or bottom of the bed. The Mineral coal contains an average of 30.2 percent anthraxylon, 60.1 percent translucent attritus, 3.2 percent opaque attritus, and 6.9 percent fusain. The Bevier contains 37.9 percent anthraxylon, 49.2 percent translucent attritus, 5.9 percent opaque attritus, and 13.1 percent fusain.
(4) The opaque constituents of the coal are difficult to identify due to a gradational relation with other constituents. The process which produces opacity in bituminous coals is uncertain. However, study of Kansas coals indicates that (a) the process (here called fusinization ) which produces fusain may act upon any of the plant materials and the resulting degree of opacity is dependent upon the intensity and duration of the process, and (b) fusinization is operative in the early stages of coalification and may be local in nature.
(5) The ribbon transect method of analysis can be used for the comparison of column samples of coal. There are, however, a number of serious disadvantages, (a) The differences between anthraxylon and attritus, as well as between opaque attritus and fusain, are based on arbitrary critical size limits. Since the differences are of a more fundamental nature, they should be denned by significant chemical or physical criteria, (b) Another basis for differentiation is opacity. There are no critical limits for distinguishing opacity which is a function of the degree of fusinization, the thickness of the section, and the kind of illumination. Although it is difficult to cut coal sections to uniform thickness, standard illumination should be denned, (c) The term "opaque attritus" is misleading in those places where its gradation to anthraxylon is obvious, (d) Fusain is classified largely on the basis of its open cell structure. In those cases where the open spaces have not been supported by mineral matter, the crushed fusain resembles opaque attritus. Much fusain has undoubtedly been classified as opaque attritus. (e) The type classifications in current usage are not completely adequate. The results of petrographic analysis will be more reliable when a satisfactory classification has been devised.
(6) The essential mineral constituents of Kansas coals are calcite and pyrite. Aragonite, marcasite, sphalerite, quartz, apatite, and clay minerals are lesser constituents. Calcite occurs in cleats and fractures in the coal as well as in the open spaces of fusain. It is also the impregnating agent of "coal balls." Pyrite is found disseminated in the attrital material and replacing calcite and plant material.
(7) The relation of petrographic composition to coal utilization shows that there is a linear relation between the sum of anthraxylon plus fusain and the friability of the coal. On the basis of the percentage of opaque constituents, it is possible to predict the probable amenability of the coals to hydrogenation. Except for the high ash content, the coals should hydrogenate readily. Since most of the mineral matter in the coals is finely disseminated and intimately associated with the coal, it is doubtful that a low-ash concentrate is economically feasible. Ash determinations on two of the float fractions from 1.70 specific gravity separation show reductions in ash of 45 and 26 percent respectively.
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Kansas Geological Survey, Geology
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