Oxygen in coal ash: a simplified approach to the analysis of ash and mineral matter in coal

Alexis Volborth, George E. Miller, Claudia K. Garner, Paul A. Jerabek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Oxygen was determined accurately in eight U.S. Bureau of Mines coal ash samples A, B, D, F, G, I, and J, NBS coal fly ash 1633 reference material, and two low-temperature ashes (LTA) from lllinois State Geological Survey. The method uses fast-neutron activation (FNA) analysis employing a dual counting and irradiation system which is essentially free from interferences. The stoichiometric balance based on analyses of the ashes performed by the USBM is calculated and summations given in oxide and element percent. Excellent agreement is found with the chemical data obtained by classical silicate analysis methods. Accurate oxygen determination for coal ash and LT-ash (or mineral matter) is important for calculation of data in the ultimate analysis of coal as such. Knowledge is required for recalculation of the data on a dry and dry-ash-free basis. The routinely used 'oxygen by difference' values are inadequate for accurate work. In order to determine the organic oxygen in coal one also has to correct for oxygen in mineral matter and oxygen in the water removed as moisture. The Parr formula and other methods of empirical estimation are inadequate and may be replaced in some cases by the oxygen determination. The complete data provide a quantitative basis for stoichiometric interpretation of coal analyses. It was found that the eight coal-ash samples analysed contained 45.5 ± 3% oxygen. Since these ashes represent a large variety of U.S. coals, this figure can be used as an estimate for recalculation and evaluation of the proximate and ultimate coal analyses. It is better, however, to use values actually determined in ash by the rapid fast-neutron activation method. This permits a better estimation of the sum of cations plus sulphates in the ash.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-208
Number of pages5
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1977
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Organic Chemistry


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