An arsenic-rich (As = 55 ppm) bituminous feed coal from the Black Warrior Basin, Alabama and its derivative fly ash (As = 230 ppm) were selected for detailed investigation of arsenic residence and chemical forms. Analytical techniques included microbeam analysis, selective extraction, and As K-edge X-ray absorption fine-structure (XAFS) spectroscopy. Most As in the coal is contained in a generation of As-bearing pyrite (FeS2) that formed in response to epigenetic introduction of hydrothermal fluids. XAFS results indicate that approximately 50% of the As in the coal sample occurs as the oxidized As(V) species, possibly the result of incipient oxidation of coal and pyrite prior to our analysis. Combustion of pyrite and host coal produced fly ash in which 95% of As is present as As(V). Selective extraction of the fly ash with a carbonate buffer solution (pH = 10) removed 49% of the As. A different extraction with an HCl-NH2OH mixture, which targets amorphous and poorly crystalline iron oxides, dissolved 79% of the As. XAFS spectroscopy of this highly acidic (pH = 3.0) fly ash indicated that As is associated with some combination of iron oxide, oxyhydroxide, or sulfate. In contrast, a highly alkaline (pH = 12.7) fly ash from Turkey shows most As associated with a phase similar to calcium orthoarsenate (Ca3(AsO4)2). The combined XAFS results indicate that fly ash acidity, which is determined by coal composition and combustion conditions, may serve to predict arsenic speciation in fly ash.
Additional publication details
Mode of occurrence of arsenic in feed coal and its derivative fly ash, Black Warrior Basin, Alabama