Trace elements in coal can occur as components of either the organic constituents (macerals) or the inorganic constituents (minerals). Studies of the concentrations and distribution of the trace elements are vital to understanding the geochemical millieu in which the coal was formed and in evaluating the attempts to recover rare but technologically valuable metals. In addition, information on the trace element concentrations is important in predicting the environmental impact of burning particular coals, as many countries move toward greater utilization of coal reserves for energy production. Traditionally, the optical and the electron microscopes and more recently the electron microprobe have been used in studying the components of coal. The proton-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) microprobe offers a new complementary approach with an order of magnitude or more better minimum detection limit. We present the first measurements with a PIXE microprobe of the trace element concentrations of bituminous coal samples. Elemental analyses of the coal macerals-vitrinite, exinite, and inertinite-are discussed for three coal samples from the Eastern U.S.A., three samples from the Western U.S.A., and one sample from the Peoples Republic of China. ?? 1981.
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Trace elemental analysis of bituminuos coals using the Heidelberg proton microprobe