Geologic Distribution: Scandium appears to be associated with both mineral matter and the organic fraction of coals in various proportions 1. Scandium also occurs within clay and phosphate minerals 2. Over 800 mineral species contain trace amounts of Sc 3. Scandium averaged 3.71 ppm on a whole coal basis in West Virginia coals. Scandium correlated well with ash yield and the ash related elements chromium (Cr), thorium (Th), vanadium (V), lithium (Li), gallium (Ga), hafnium (Hf), lead (Pb), tantalum (Ta), yttrium (Y) and cesium (Cs). Scandium correlated well with several rare earth elements, including europium (Eu), ytterbium (Yb), lutetium (Lu), cerium (Ce), samarium (Sm), lanthanum (La), terbium (Tb) and erbium (Er). Coals in the Pocahontas, New River and lower Kanawha Formations and the Monongahela and Dunkard Groups contained less than 4 ppm scandium. Upper Kanawha through Conemaugh coals contain higher amounts of scandium. The areal distribution of scandium statewide was apparently random.
Economic Impact: Scandium in coal is of no economic importance. About 20 kg of Sc (as oxide) is used in th U.S. yearly in high intensity lights and a radioactive tracer in refinery crackers for crude oil 3.
Environmental Impact: Scandium in the atmosphere originates from volcanoes and coal combustion, but appears to have no deleterious effects on the environment 1.
1. Swaine, D.J., (1990)
2. Finkelman, R.B., (1981)
3. CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics
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