Solvent swelling behavior of Permian-aged South African vitrinite-rich and inertinite-rich coals

Daniel Van Niekerk, Phillip M. Halleck, Jonathan P. Mathews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Two South African coals similar in rank and age, but different in maceral composition, were studied using solvent swelling. Inertinite-rich Highveld coal (dominated by semifusinite) and vitrinite-rich Waterberg coal were evaluated for swelling extent and swelling rate using N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) and CS2/NMP. A stop-motion videography method was developed to study individual particle swelling behavior. This method allowed observation of overshoot and climbing-type swelling, as well as swelling kinetics. Single-particle swelling experiments showed that both coals exhibited overshoot-type and climbing-type swelling. The inertinite-rich coal swelled much faster (in both solvents) than the vitrinite-rich coal. The swelling in CS2/NMP was faster for both coals. Kinetic parameters showed that solvent swelling was governed by relaxation (super-Case II relaxation) of the coal structure. X-ray computed tomography was conducted over a 50 h swelling period in NMP for single particles of each coal. Anisotropic swelling was observed in all the particles (swelling greater perpendicular to the bedding plane than parallel to it). The subtle changes in molecular structure, fine structural and physical differences resulted in significant differences in solvent swelling behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-25
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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