Trace Elements in West Virginia Coals
Arsenic is an especially toxic, Clean Air Act, Title III Hazardous Air
Pollutant element in West Virginia coals and is of important environmental
and economic concern.
Geologic Occurrence: Arsenic occurs in coal primarily within
pyrite (FeS2) and arsenopyrite (FeAsS) 1. Because
pyrite is far more abundant than arsenopyrite in coal, most arsenic is
in solid solution within pyrite in small amounts 2 . Arsenic
is highest in coals of the Conemaugh Group and is highest in parts of the
state where these coals are present. The Harlem, Elk Lick and Mahoning
coals of Tucker, Mineral and Grant counties contain the highest arsenic
averages (see cautionary notes page).
These coals have not historically been mined because of they are thin and
not laterally extensive, and as such are not economically important (see
the historic Conemaugh production).Whole coal As averaged 17.13 ppm
in West Virginia coals and correlated statistically only with total
sulfur and mercury.
Economic Impact: Arsenic in coal is of great importance to Selective
Catalytic Reduction (SCR) for NOx control. In SCR systems, ammonia
vapor or urea is used as the reducing agent and is injected into the flue
gas stream, passing over a catalyst. NOx emission reductions
over 80-90% are achieved. The very expensive catalysts can be severely
degraded by arsenic poisoning, therefore the abundance of arsenic in the
coal burned is of great importance 3.
Environmental Impact: Important natural sources of atmospheric
As include volcanic eruptions, which contribute 22% of the total atmospheric
arsenic. Coal combustion contributes 1.8% of the total emissions, which
is the same amount as wood combustion 4. During coal combustion,
fly ash concentrates As several hundred times, thereby reducing atmospheric
et al, (1979)
J.A., et al., (1984)
Coal Research Centre
et al., (1979)
Page last revised: January 23, 2006
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