Trace Elements in West Virginia Coals

BERYLLIUM (Be)Dividing Line

Beryllium Stratigraphic DistributionBeryllium Geographic DistributionBeryllium Summary Statistics

Beryllium is one of the Clean Air Act, Title III Hazardous Air Pollutant elements and is environmentally important.

Geologic Occurrence: Beryllium in coal is generally considered to be organically bound 1.  Beryllium is also expected to be associated with quartz and clay minerals 1.  Coals of the Kanawha Formation contained the highest Be contents, with lesser amounts of Be in Lower and Upper Pennsylvanian coals.  Highest whole coal Be contents were in coals of the southern coalfield where Kanawha Formation coals are mined.  Beryllium in coals averaged 2.57 ppm on a whole coal basis. Statistically Be did not correlate with ash yield, total sulfur, pyritic sulfur and slightly with yttrium (Y).

Economic Impact: There is no apparent economic impact of beryllium in coal.  Beryllium is used in nuclear reactors, gyroscopes, computer parts and ceramics 2.

Environmental Impact: Beryllium is toxic and despite generally low Be abundance in coals, beryllium in the environment is attributed to coal combustion 3. However, studies have shown that less than 4% of the beryllium in coal burned is emitted to the atmosphere 4.

    1.  Swaine, D.J., (1990)
    2.  CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics
    3.  Fishbein, L., (1981)
    4.  Gladney, E.S. and Owens, J.W., (1976)

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