Coal Quality

Coal Quality

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Wed Dec 05, 2012 5:25 pm

I recently read a post that was rather concerning, basically it was saying don't buy coal from this plant. Now out of ethics, I will not recite the coal company mentioned because to be honest with you, I thought maybe it was a disgruntled worker who had lost his job, or some other personal reason. Now I can understand that coal from different areas of the country, state, geographical area are going to be quite different, but wouldn't that apply to a seam of coal as well? This company was located right in the heart of Notheastern PA coal country, so I would think its quality would not be worse then any other company from that general area. Now I can see if it was from the lower portion of the semi-anthracite region, but its not.

In reading up on the subject, The State of Kentucky explains how landowners can determine how much coal is on their land by knowing the depth of the coal seam. In that States case, they mentioned coal seams of 5-6 feet. Now they had thicker ones than that, and while I have never been inside a coal mine, much less struck a pick into a seam, it would seem to me (no pun intended), that with such a shallow depth, it is conceivable that a bunch of that coal would be on the fringes of that coal seam and would contain lower quality coal. This boggles my mind as the only coal seam I have seen in person was out in Wyoming and averaged 90 feet thick. I could see where that coal...while inferior to anthracite...would be more consistent.

Now I buy coal by the bag, and not in a mass quantity, so I see a broad spectrum of coal quality. Some of the bags I get have nice white ash, while others have red ash. I have also seen a lot of wood chunks in with the coal...and this has all been from the same company. I have not been upset by any of it, it burns nicely in my hand fed coal stove and I am warm. I am just passing the difference in quality off as changes in a changing medium...coal gathered along the edges of the seam, coal reclaimed from someplace near some wooden structure, a seam of iron running through that part of the coal, etc, etc, etc.

Who is right here?

Am I right to expect changes in coal since I buy it in small quantities and thus get my coal over a broad spectrum of the same coal company's coal reserves? Or am I missing something and I should expect linear results from the same coal company because that region has consistent coal? Am I just silly to buy coal in such a way and if I was smart, just buy a large order to get a better comparison?

I know when I visited the Jack Daniels distillery they tap multiple kegs to give each fifth of whiskey the same, consistent flavor and color, but if you want to pony up the cash, for 9 grand you can buy an entire barrel of whiskey and find that it is unique to that one barrel in flavor, proof and color. I would think the same idea applies to coal mining. I might buy 10 tons of coal this year that has red ash in it because that moments mining contained a vein of iron ore in the coal, where as if I place another order from the same mine a year later, the coal would produce white ash?

I guess what I am saying is; wouldn't the coal quality vary no matter what mine it came out of? Do we really have any right to say one coal company's coal sucks over that of another coal company's coal?

(And why am I so wordy when this is simple coal we are talking about? And if I am warm, why am I so concerned with this? Why am I speaking out loud my primitive thoughts? :-) )
NoSmoke
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)

Re: Coal Quality

PostBy: Lightning On: Wed Dec 05, 2012 5:37 pm

Well my thoughts are that since we are burning basically an unrefined substance strait out of the ground, it will probably vary like you say to some extent. But on the flip side, seams would be variable too. Its all variable. Thats my short answer on that one :lol:
Lightning
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1537G
Coal Size/Type: Nut/Stove Size Mix

Re: Coal Quality

PostBy: coalnewbie On: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:00 pm

OK, as I am soooo funny and I realize have made your year, if anybody is thinking of a little Xmas gift to me...... hint, hint....

for 9 grand you can buy an entire barrel of whiskey and find that it is unique to that one barrel in flavor, proof and color.
coalnewbie
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: LL AnthraKing 180K, Pocono110K,KStokr 90K, DVC
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93,
Baseburners & Antiques: Invader 2 Wings Best, Glenwood #8 + Herald 116x
Coal Size/Type: Rice, Chestnut
Other Heating: Heating Oil CH, Toyotomi OM 22


Re: Coal Quality

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:47 pm

I know coal has created a monster in this house...

We went to Walmart today to do some shopping; and froze every minute we were there. Then we went to a truck stop to eat...and froze every minute we were there. At the bank...same thing.

Tonight I came home and got a little chilled and opened up the damper a bit to get the house a bit warmer...then looked at the thermometer. It was only 82 degrees...I mentioned this to the wife and she said, "At this rate we are not going to be able to leave the house." Typically the house averages between 85-92 degrees. I often humorously quip, "Getting dangerously close to the pipes freezing", when it hits 75 degrees and stoke the stove back up. :shock:
NoSmoke
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)

Re: Coal Quality

PostBy: steamup On: Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:41 am

If someone with more intimate knowledge can chime in, please do.

From what research I have done all of the larger coal companies are mining mutiple seams in mutiple locations. Most mining is now strip mining. Alot of strip mining involves stripping out old underground mine workings. Hence, you get a lot of timbers being dug up with the coal. Wood is lighter than coal and floats through the heavy media process and ends up in the coal.

Yes, quality varies from seam to seam, location to location. The reason the breaker process is so important is not only to size the coal, but to remove as much of the impurities as possible.

Bone is present in the coal seams.
Bone is defined as:
i. A hard coallike substance high in noncombustible mineral matter; often found above or below, or in partings between, layers of relatively pure coal.
ii. In the anthracite-coal trade, a carbonaceous shale containing approx. 40% to 60% of noncombustible materials.
Synonym of: bone coal, bony coal
iii. A tough, fine-grained, gray, white, or reddish quartz.
iv. A layer of hard, impure coal which sometimes grades uniformly into the adjacent softer coal and sometimes is sharply separated from it. Bone is usually a mixture of clay shale particles with the coal, the clay particles being well distributed.

The other problem is black shale that looks like coal but is much denser. The heavy media floatation process will remove most of this.

The inconsistancy is why the bigger companies blend coals from different sources to maintain a more consistant product.

In the past year where demand was out pacing supply, coal companies were less picky at to the quality of the coal sold to the home burner.
steamup
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman-Anderson AA-130, Keystoker K-6
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: HS Tarm 502 Wood/Coal/Oil
Coal Size/Type: pea, buck, rice

Re: Coal Quality

PostBy: freetown fred On: Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:11 am

Even w/ bulk, dealing with a reputable dealor that handles Blaschak--my buddy over the hill got his tonnage early in the spring/summer--I got mine in the 1st part of Nov. We both use Nut--his is with much fines & smaller pieces--mine is pretty uniform to Nut & almost no fines--bottom of the pile compared to fresh tt load--who's to say???? bags, I don't have a clue--I've picked up a dozen or so over the yrs with no complaints.
freetown fred
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: HITZER 50-93
Coal Size/Type: BLASCHAK Nut/Stove mix

Re: Coal Quality

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:06 am

Very interesting Steamup...I know it was a lengthy post but I appreciate the knowledge and information.

I was not aware that coal companies were resorting to strip mining. I knew in parts of West Virginia they were, and of course in Wyoming, but I just sort of assumed that anthracite was mined via underground methods. It would seem to me then, that if strip mining is the low cost alternative to getting this coal out of the ground, then it would be limited to seams of coal that were in relative close proximity to ground level and were fairly deep in thickness? That would make for a lot of unreachable coal economically speaking, throughout the anthracite coal region I would assume? I am not sure that is a real issue. Reserves are just that; reserves, so in the future when prices support chasing hard to get coal, different methods can be devised, but at least the reserves are there, and are within the border of the United States. As they say; necessity is the Mother of Invention!
NoSmoke
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)

Re: Coal Quality

PostBy: Rob R. On: Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:29 am

The higher the price, the deeper they dig.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Coal Quality

PostBy: Berlin On: Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:08 am

NoSmoke wrote:Very interesting Steamup...I know it was a lengthy post but I appreciate the knowledge and information.

I was not aware that coal companies were resorting to strip mining. I knew in parts of West Virginia they were, and of course in Wyoming, but I just sort of assumed that anthracite was mined via underground methods. It would seem to me then, that if strip mining is the low cost alternative to getting this coal out of the ground, then it would be limited to seams of coal that were in relative close proximity to ground level and were fairly deep in thickness? That would make for a lot of unreachable coal economically speaking, throughout the anthracite coal region I would assume? I am not sure that is a real issue. Reserves are just that; reserves, so in the future when prices support chasing hard to get coal, different methods can be devised, but at least the reserves are there, and are within the border of the United States. As they say; necessity is the Mother of Invention!


Much Anthracite is stripped and almost all bituminous coal (yes, even eastern bit from pa to tn) is stripped.
Berlin
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Will-Burt Combustioneer 77B
Coal Size/Type: Ohio BITUMINOUS pea stoker coal

Re: Coal Quality

PostBy: mattcoalburner On: Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:40 am

Most Antracite is stripped anymore. And yes there are major differences n coal quality especially from company to company. There can also be differences in quality within the same company. I know a man who got four ton of Blashak in the early spring that he GAVE away because he couldnt even get it to burn, He had an Alaska Kodiak, a firend of hs had a Warm Morning and it burned ok in there, but still not great. I think it was due to the shortages from last year, non the less he asked his supplier to come take it to no avail, So I got a new customer!
mattcoalburner
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Reading Juniata