The agglomeration of coal fines using wet microalgae biomass

Keywords: Scenedesmus, Coalgae®; pellets


South African coal generally contains a high percentage of non-carbon mineral matter, which necessitates processing to remove the bulk of the non-carbon material. Such processing results in the formation of some 60 million tons of discard coal and between four and eight million tons of very fine, unusable coal, called ultra-fines, each year. The objective of this study was to investigate factors that impact on the agglomeration of fine coal of <150 mm when using microalgae biomass as the sole binder. Mixtures of coal and wet microalgae biomass were prepared and pelletised. The proximate properties of the mixtures and coal were determined and the physical properties of the pellets measured, such as compression strength, water resistance and impact resistance. The results showed that pelletisation of Coalgae® is a promising technology for the recovery of coal fines. Moisture content, pressure and holding time influence the quality of the pellets. Compression resistance testing indicated that pellets made from the coal80%-algae20% (by weight) mixture were stronger than those made from the coal90%-algae10% (by weight) mixture. Pellets made from samples with ± 17% moisture content exhibited the strongest resistance, one of 1.8 kg/mm2 for the coal80%-algae20% mixture that was centrifuged after 24 hours. The water resistance index for all the pellets was lower than the recommended 95%, which was considered to put emphasis on handling, transportation and storage of the pellets.

Author Biography

Sibongiseni Gloria Gaqa, Nelson Mandela University
Department of Chemistry (InnoVenton)


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