Energy Resources Program
Friday, December 14, 2018
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Monday, May 09, 2016
Monday, February 29, 2016
Eight density separates of Permian Highveld (#4) coal were investigated for partitioning of Hg and trace elements. The separates include float fractions obtained in heavy media having densities of 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9, and 2.0 g/cm3, and the sink fraction for 2.0 g/cm3...
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Since the mid-1970s, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has maintained a coal quality database of national scope named USCHEM, which currently contains data for over 13,000 samples. A subset of the USCHEM database called COALQUAL Version 1.3 was initially published in 1994 and was followed by Version 2.0 in 1997...
Wednesday, December 02, 2015
The scientists of the U.S. Geological Survey Energy Resources Program use a wide variety of analytical procedures to address key questions and assess evolving trends regarding the use of coal and other solid fuels, such as gas and oil shale. Optimizing fuel use and minimizing its impact on the environment are necessary components of 21st-century strategies for meeting society’s energy needs. One critical aspect of fuel use optimization is an understanding of the geologic factors that affect fuel quality. For example, the composition of coal critically influences power generation efficiency, the impact of coal use on the environment, and the composition and usefulness of combustion products.
In 2008, the U.S. produced about 1,073 million short tons of coal, most of which was used to generate electricity. Impacts of mining this coal include ground disturbance, acid mine drainage, and mobilization of potentially hazardous elements in the coal and the surrounding strata. By understanding the physical processes and chemical reactions that can occur during formation, exploration, and utilization of coal, potential effects on the environment can be predicted. Engineers and industry can then use this knowledge to develop more efficient and cleaner ways to use coal, other solid fuels, and the byproducts of power generation.
Solid fuels can be characterized by standard analytical techniques including organic and inorganic petrography, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and other electron beam methods, X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF), and inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) and mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS). A new generation of instruments and techniques for nanoscale analysis may provide greater insights into the genesis, maturation, and geochemistry of solid fuels. Some of these techniques include laser ablation, small-angle scatter neutron scattering (SANS), imaging mass spectrometry (IMS), tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, and neutron and X-ray spectroscopies. Combining traditional techniques with these new tools should offer new insight into the formation and evolution of solid fuels. This information, in turn, should allow us to better predict the consequences of utilizing coal.
Scientists in the USGS Energy Resources Program Geochemistry of Solid Fuels project are working on a variety of research topics... [+]
Mercury in Coal - Geoscientists are working on ways to better understand the distribution of mercury in coal and to potentially reduce mercury in emissions by means of coal preparation. This work builds on previous USGS projects and results obtained from Department of Energy (DOE)-funded collaborative multi-element studies completed nearly a decade ago. Geologists are refining the USGS selective leaching procedure for mercury in coal to optimize mercury mode-of-occurrence determinations. This capability is especially important for coals with ordinary mercury contents because other methods are limited to unusually mercury-rich coals. Geologists are conducting research to optimize micro- or nano-scale approaches to study the distribution of mercury in coal and other solid fuels.
Coal and Coal Combustion Products - Geoscientists at the USGS are completing research designed to quantify and model the elements and compounds in coal and coal combustion products (CCPs) through the coal utilization cycle. Coal quality studies tend to concentrate on single parameters, for example, arsenic or mercury. In contrast, this work takes a comprehensive "cradle-to-grave" approach. The research focuses not only on the occurrence and formation of different elements and compounds throughout the spectrum of mining, production, and transportation, but most importantly, on the utilization and the disposal of CCPs. The cradle-to-grave approach allows us to link in-ground coal quality trends to CCPs, a critical step in predicting environmental effects of coal utilization.
A variety of coal quality parameters including sulfur; major, minor, and trace elements; and coal mineralogy were examined from pulverized-coal power plants in the United States. Five pulverized-coal-fired power plants that utilize different designs and pollution-control devices were sampled in Alaska, Indiana, New Mexico, Ohio, and Wyoming. Two of the power plants receive coal from a single coal bed or coal zone: the Ohio power plant utilizes Upper Pennsylvanian Pittsburgh coal, and the Wyoming plant utilizes Tertiary Tongue River Member of Fort Union Wyodak-Anderson coal from the Powder River Basin. The remaining three power plants receive coal from two to three coal beds or coal zones: the Alaska power plant utilizes beds 3, 4, and 6 from the Middle Miocene Nenana Coal Province; the New Mexico plant is supplied by three unnamed coal beds from the Upper Cretaceous Fruitland Formation coal of the San Juan basin; and the Indiana power plant utilizes Pennsylvanian Stockton coal and an unnamed coal bed from the Illinois Basin. Samples were collected over multiple weeks to ensure that samples of feed coal and CCPs were representative.
Pores in Gas Shales - USGS scientists are collaborating with geoscientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Sydney, Australia, and Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia, to examine pores size distribution and connectivity in shale gas using the ultra-high-resolution small-angle neutron scattering (USANS) diffractometer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the General Purpose Small Angle Neutron Scattering (GP-SANS) diffractometer at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
Co-fired Biomass and Coal Studies - USGS scientists are collaborating with geoscientists and engineers at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research and East Kentucky Power Cooperative to sample a power plant that has test burns of switchgrass and coal to study the impact of biomass blending on boiler operation and the composition of combustion products.
World Coal Maps - With the increased emphasis on coal usage throughout the world, knowledge of coal resources and reserves, and associated quality and mineability is essential for government and industry planners and policy and decision makers. However, digital data of world coal occurrence are not readily available. USGS has produced geographic information system (GIS) and coal quality data of the coal-bearing areas of the Western Hemisphere and Africa based on existing USGS surficial geology coverages published in Digital Data or Open-File series. However, much of the world’s coal resources occur in the Eastern Hemisphere and a representation of their occurrence and available analytical data needs to be compiled. In 2011, USGS is compiling two new Eastern Hemisphere world coal maps of 1) Pakistan and 2) India and Bangladesh. Additional country maps will be produced in the future.
Data Quality - USGS chemists are providing quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) of geochemical analyses to geologists and other geoscientists. Chemists works with geoscientists prior to sample collection and sample submittal to ensure that the correct analyses are selected, that sufficient sample has been collected, and that an adequate number of duplicates, blanks, and QA/QC samples will be submitted to USGS and commercial laboratories.
Ronald H. Affolter
Kevin B. Jones
Stephen E. Suitt
Harvey E. Belkin
USGS Professional Profile
Sharon M. Swanson
William M. Benzel
Robert C. Milici
Michael H. Trippi
William J. Betterton
USGS Professional Profile
Brett J. Valentine
Mark A. Engle
Leslie F. Ruppert
Nicholas J. Geboy
John R. Sanfilipo
The USGS Energy Resources Program, in cooperation with many agencies and scientists from the world’s coal producing countries, undertook a project, called the World Coal Quality Inventory (WoCQI), to obtain samples of coal from the world’s producing coal mines during a limited period of time (roughly 1995-2006.
The U.S. Geological Survey Energy Resources Program has developed coal databases to monitor the location, quantity, and physical and chemical characteristics of U.S. coal and coal-related deposits.
The Geochemistry Laboratory supports Energy Team needs for inorganic and organic analysis and maintains a laboratory information system (LIMS) for geochemical data tracking and sample storage. The lab provides geochemical expertise and analytical support to Federal, State and County agencies, universities and foreign research organizations.
Click on the poster below to enlarge the view and navigate in any direction:
Top of Page
USGS Health and Environment Fact Sheets
USGS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Pertaining to "Coal"
Energy Resources Program - Geochemistry Laboratories
Energy Resources Program - Coal and Human Health
Energy Resources Program - State Cooperators
A bootstrap estimation scheme for chemical compositional data with nondetects - Journal of Chemometrics article: Request copy, email author.
Association of American State Geologists
Center for Applied Energy Research University of Kentucky
Colorado Geological Survey
Illinois Geological Survey
Indiana Geological Survey
Kentucky Geological Survey
Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology
New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources
North Dakota Geological Survey
Ohio Geological Survey
Pennsylvania Bureau of Topographic and Geological Survey
Virginia Department of Mines Minerals and Energy, Division of Geology and Mineral Resources
West Virginia Geological Survey
Wyoming State Geological Survey
International Committee for Coal & Organic Petrology (ICCP)
The Society for Organic Petrology (TSOP)
Page Last Modified: Friday, October 13, 2017