WVGES Trace Elements in West Virginia Coals

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Germanium Stratigraphic DistributionGermanium Geographic DistributionGermanium Summary Statistics

Germanium is a trace element in coal that is of no environmental concern.

Geologic Distribution: Most authors agree that germanium is organically bound in coal with some very high Ge coals probably enhanced by Ge in sphalerite and clay minerals 1, 2. Mean whole coal germanium content of West Virginia coals was 3.09 ppm.  Germanium did not correlate with ash yield, total sulfur, pyritic sulfur or other trace elements. Most coals contained low Ge contents, with very high Ge values in coals of the Conemaugh Group (Mahoning, Brush Creek, Bakerstown and Harlem coals) (see cautionary notes page). Geographically, high (>12 ppm ) germanium content coals were distributed throughout the state.  In northern West Virginia the high Ge coals were Allegheny and Conemaugh Group coals, and high Ge southern coal field samples were from a variety of coals.  Low Ge coals were distributed statewide.

Economic Impact: Germanium in coal is of great interest because coal ash is a viable source of Ge for the manufacture of semiconductor materials 3.  Germanium is one of a few elements with coal ash as an important source.  Germanium is also used in alloys, as a catalyst and as a phosphor in fluorescent lamps, wide angle camera lenses and microscope objectives 3.

Environmental Impact: Germanium has no environmental impact in coal mining or use 1.

    1. Swaine, D.J., (1990)
    2. Finkelman, R.B., (1981)
    3. CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics
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