A review of the correlations of coal properties with elemental composition

Jonathan P. Mathews, Vijayaragavan Krishnamoorthy, Enette Louw, Aime H.N. Tchapda, Fidel Castro-Marcano, Vamsi Karri, Dennis A. Alexis, Gareth D. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


The spatial arrangement and abundance of the elements: C, H, N, O, S often correlate or directly influence a plethora of coal properties. For > 90 years, attempts have utilized the ultimate (elemental) analysis of coal to predict a wide variety of properties such as: calorific value (higher heating value), volatile matter, vitrinite reflectance (mean maximum), Hardgrove grindability index, helium density, aromaticity, etc. While many relationships resulted in graphical plots that have utility even today, numerical values can also be directly calculated utilizing the correlations. These have the potential to allow rapid predictions and low-cost approaches to coal property determination. Here the many correlations addressing multiple coal properties were reviewed and where possible evaluated against a sampling of the Pennsylvania State University Coal Sample Bank and Database for vitrinite-rich (> 80% by point counting) United States coals. Over 42 correlations were found in the literature. While some correlations, such as calorific value predictions are accurate over a wide range of compositions, others are restricted in applicability to a select rank range. For many correlations, there are challenges to predict the property accurately, over a wide range, but may capture the trends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-113
Number of pages10
JournalFuel processing technology
StatePublished - May 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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