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Old 12-27-2015, 11:48 AM
Location: DC
6,522 posts, read 6,455,276 times
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Originally Posted by thecoalman View Post
Here in PA what they have been doing to reclaim many of these abandoned areas is they build a plant right on the site. The sites have mountains of what was once a waste product from the processing of anthracite, there is still a lot of coal or what is commonly called bone. Bone will have very thin layers of rock and coal in it.

In the anthracite industry since the seams are not that thick they end up with lot of rock in the raw product and need to remove it. They use what is called a menzies cone which has a magnetite slurry in it. Gravity takes over, the rock sinks and the coal floats off the top.

They are using the same process at these waste sites however it's still not anywhere near freshly mined coal. They are using it in a cogen plant instead.

It's a win, win, win situation. They clean up the site, they are producing energy either with electric or heat and the ash is used to fill monstrous strip mining pits. New EPA regulations could potentially close these operations.
I'm aware of only one coal plant using anthracite culm as a fuel. It's my understanding that it has been converted to natural gas.
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Old 12-31-2015, 01:00 AM
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Originally Posted by DCforever View Post
I'm aware of only one coal plant using anthracite culm as a fuel. It's my understanding that it has been converted to natural gas.
AFAIK they weren't using culm, it was built to burn coal and the product from culm is not very good compared too fresh coal without a huge amount of processing making it pointless. I don't live too far from that plant and it's been fully converted too natural gas, that plant has been there since I was a kid and to be quite honest I was surprised they converted it all becsue of it's age. I would presume the higher cost of anthracite, the parent company is a natural gas distributor and the new mercury emission rules all played a factor in switching it too gas.

Anthracite goes through a lot of processing compared to soft coal to separate the rock, size it and clean it. They were using the smallest sized coal equal too or less than barley which is a size about the size of coarse sand, it is not suitable for home heating fresh coal or not. Overall as I understand it anthracite is not well suited for large industrial purposes anyway. That sized coal doesn't have as much value as the larger sized coal but nonetheless it's still expensive as far as coal goes. It's in demand for coking applications and water filtration.

Up until about the 30's or 40's any coal not larger than pea coal was considered waste. Pea coal also refers to a size and is about the size of a quarter. In the 40's automatic stokers came about with forced air and sizes less than pea coal could be used. Today for home heating the most in demand size is rice which is about the size of a pencil eraser.

In addition to that they didn't have the same tech as they do now for separation of rock. Freshly Mined anthracite coal is going to have a less than desirable product located adjacent to the seam that has sandwiched layers of coal and rock. This is commonly called "bone". It will burn but just barely and leads to other issues like "clinkers" which is where the material that is not coal has fused while burning. This can clog grates, and starts breaking stuff in automatic stokers. This is also one the reasons soft coal is not used in home heating applications. Anthracite will burn up to almost a powder with the right conditions.

Both of these things has left a large amount of coal in these piles especially if they are older, keep in mind the anthracite industry peaked in 1920. They do some minor processing to remove some rock and belt it right to the cogen plant. They will also build smaller separation plants on sites far away from the plant. They truck the product to the plant and bring back ash for backfill for old stripping pits.

Schuylkill Energy Resources, Inc


It's a win, win, win situation. The waste piles get removed, the land gets reclaimed and you're making power to pay for it. Certainly even you should agree if there is regulations that will shutter these plants they should be exempt.

Last edited by thecoalman; 12-31-2015 at 01:31 AM..
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Old 12-31-2015, 07:46 AM
Location: DC
6,522 posts, read 6,455,276 times
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From your link:

Schuylkill Energy Resources, Inc. (SER) is a 100-megawatt anthracite culm-fired cogeneration facility located in Mahanoy Township, Schuylkill County.

I was actually thinking of UGI's Hunlock station, which has been converted to natural gas. Maybe there are two anthracite plants.

the plants should be required to meet at current emission standards. They are dirty.
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