WVGES Trace Elements in West Virginia Coals

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Nickel Stratigraphic DistributionNickel Geographic DistributionNickel Summary Statistics

Nickel is one of the Clean Coal Act , Title III Hazardous Air Pollutant elements and its content in West Virginia coals is of environmental concern.

Geologic Distribution: The mode of occurrence of nickel is both in sulfides and organically bound 1. Clay minerals may also contain nickel 2. Nickel correlated poorly with ash yield, moderately well with cobalt (Co), and less so with vanadium (V), gallium (Ga) and lead (Pb). Lower Kanawha, New River and Pocahontas Formation coals consistently contained less than 20 ppm whole coal nickel with a gradual increase in Ni content in upper Kanawha Formation coals.  The Upper, Middle and Lower Kittanning coals of the Allegheny Group exhibit the highest nickel contents, Monongahela Group coals contain low Ni abundances, and high ash coals of the Dunkard Group are high in nickel.  These stratigraphic trends in abundance result in low and high nickel content coals distributed evenly throughout the state.

Economic Impact:  There is no economic impact of Ni in coal.  Nickel is used in the manufacture of stainless steel and other alloys.  Nickel is used in coins, glass making, nickel plating, as a catalyst, in batteries and magnets 3.

Environmental Impact:  Atmospheric Ni contributed by volcanoes and windblown dust is much greater than the 1.5% of the global emissions of Ni from coal combustion 4.  There appear to be no detrimental effects of Ni to the environment by coal mining and use 5, but Ni is toxic at high levels 3.  Swaine offered a review of nickel in coals, fly ash and the environment 6.

    1. Finkelman, R.B., (1981)
    2. Finkelman, R.B., (1988)
    3. CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics
    4. Bennett, B.G., (1981)
    5. Swaine, D.J., (1990)
    6. Swaine, D.J., (1980)
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