Energy Resources Program
Friday, June 29, 2012
USGS Publication: Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5010
This report discusses the geologic framework and petroleum geology used to assess undiscovered petroleum resources in the Bohaiwan basin province for the 2000 World Energy Assessment Project of the U.S. Geological Survey. The Bohaiwan basin in northeastern China is the largest petroleum-producing region in China.
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Outside Publication: International Journal of Coal GeologyElectron beam microanalysis of coal samples in U.S. Geological Survey labs confirms that arsenic is the most abundant minor constituent in iron disulfides in coal and that selenium, nickel, and other minor constituents are present less commonly and at lower concentrations than those for arsenic.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
USGS Publication: Open-File Report 2011–1261
Coal exploration drill-hole data from over 24,000 wells in 10 States are discussed by State in the chapters of this report, and the data are provided in an accompanying spreadsheet.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
USGS Publication: Open-File Report 2011–1296This Open-File Report contains downloadable shapefiles representing the coalfields of India and Bangladesh and a limited number of chemical and petrographic analyses of India and Bangladesh coal samples.
Sunday, December 04, 2011
USGS Publication: Data Series 635The principal mission of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Energy Resources Program (ERP) is to (1) understand the processes critical to the formation, accumulation, occurrence, and alteration of geologically based energy resources; (2) conduct scientifically robust assessments of those resources; and (3) study the impacts of energy resource occurrence and (or) their production and use on both the environment and human health.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
USGS Publication: Open-File Report 2011–1187Geochemistry is a constantly expanding science. More and more, scientists are employing geochemical tools to help answer questions about the Earth and earth system processes. Scientists may assume that the responsibility of examining and assessing the quality of the geochemical data they generate is not theirs but rather that of the analytical laboratories to which their samples have been submitted.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Outside Publication: Society for Organic Petrology NewsletterThe tool of measuring "vitrinite reflectance" under a microscope has great value in petroleum exploration and coal utilization, and the reflectance is a simple number, such as 1.4% Ro, with some slight variations depending on technique. This report analyzes here just one factor, "smear" of crude oil on the polished surface (from the sample), which may reduce reflectance because of thin-film interference.
Friday, August 26, 2011
USGS Publication: Open-File Report 2011–1148A review of publicly available coal quality data during the coal resource assessment of the southwestern part of the Powder River Basin, Wyoming, revealed significant problems and limitations with those data. The review processes demonstrated why it is always preferable to research and evaluate the circumstances regarding the sampling and analytical methodology from the original data sources when evaluating coal quality information, particularly if only limited data are available.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Outside Publication: International Journal of Coal GeologyHower, J.C. and Ruppert, L.F., 2011, Splint coals of the Central Appalachians: petrographic and geochemical facies of the Peach Orchard No. 3 Split coal bed, southern Magoffin County, Kentucky: International Journal of Coal Geology, v. 85, p. 268-275: Outside publication - request copy, email author.
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.
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