Ionizing radiation as imaging tool for coal characterization and gasification research
Hoffman, Jakobus Willem
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In this study, imaging with ionizing radiation was evaluated as a research technique in coal research. Part of the evaluation was to conduct a thorough literature survey as well as a preliminary investigation into coal pyrolysis and gasification with micro–focus X–ray tomography. The literature survey summarizes previous research experiences, primarily focussing on the possibility of utilizing a specific coal bed for carbon dioxide sequestration and methane production. This includes quantifying the fracture and cleat network and visualizing the orientation of this network. The cleat and fracture spacing and aperture are used to calculate certain parameters necessary to model gas flow. Other aspects include non–destructive characterization which consisted of determining the porosity and the minerals and macerals present and the respective mineral distribution. The literature survey also includes a section on the utilization of neutrons in coal research and a description of a neutron imaging facility in South Africa is presented. Three coal samples from the Waterberg and Highveld regions of South Africa were used to investigate the process of pyrolysis through micro–focus X–ray tomography. The samples swelled significantly when 50% pyrolysis was achieved after which the samples became brittle. This verified the plastic nature of the coal, that is prevalent under these conditions. It was also possible to perform qualitative characterizations prior to and during the process. Regions of low and high density materials could also be visualized. The distribution of the minerals is indicative of the permeability of the organic matrix. Two coal samples of the Highveld regions were used to investigate gasification up to a level of 30%. It was possible to verify that the reaction progressed according to the mechanisms proposed by the un–reacted shrinking core model. The mineral matter and the high density coal macerals did not influence the reaction in any way.
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