Hydroxyl functionalities of middle rank british coals
Most of the new processes involving the utilisation of coal are based on hydroliquefaction, and in order to assess the suitability of the various coals for this purpose and to characterise coals in general, it is desirable to have a detailed and accurate knowledge of their chemical constitution and reactivity. Also, in the consumption of coals as chemical feed stocks, as in hydroliquefaction, it is advantageous to classify the coals in terms of chemical parameters as opposed to, or in addition to, carbonisation parameters. In view of this it is important to realise the functional groups on the coal hydrocarbon skeleton. In this research it was attempted to characterise coals of various rank (and subsequently their macerals) via methods involving both microwave-driven and bench top derivatisation of the hydroxyl functionalities present in coal. These hydroxyl groups are predominantly in the form of hindered phenolic groups, with other alcoholic groupings being less important, in the coals studied here. Four different techniques were employed, three of which - stannylation, silylation and methylation - were based on in situ analysis. The fourth technique - acetylation - involved derivatisation followed by analysis of a leaving group. The four different techniques were critically compared and it is concluded that silylation is the most promising technique for the evaluation of the hydroxyl content of middle rank coals and coal macerals. Derivatisation via stannylation using TBTO was impeded due to the large steric demand of the reagent and acetylation did not successfully derivatise the more hindered phenolic groups. Three novel methylation techniques were investigated and two of these show great potential. The information obtained from the techniques was correlated together to give a comprehensive insight into the coals and coal macerals studied.