Comparison of sintering and compressive strength tendencies of a model coal mineral mixture heat-treated in inert and oxidizing atmospheres

08 October 2012

The chemical interactions responsible for sintering in a coal mineral mixture were investigated in air and in N2. A mineral mixture was made up by mixing kaolin, pyrite, quartz, calcite, hydromagnesite, FeCO3 and anatase in a fixed ratio. The mineral mixture was pelletized and heat-treated up to 1100 °C in order to evaluate sintering by recording the compressive strength values and visual assessment with scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Chemical interactions responsible for the trends in the compressive strength results were investigated with simultaneous thermogravimetric and differential thermal analysis (TG/DTA), as well as X-ray diffraction. The results indicated that the formation of anhydrite (CaSO4) was responsible for increased mechanical strength in the mineral mixture pellets heated in air at temperatures higher that 400 °C. CaSO4 formed from the reaction of the decomposition products of pyrite and calcite (SOx and CaO). The TG/DTA results also indicated that the reaction with pyrite in air caused the decomposition of calcite in the mixture at a lower temperature than was observed for calcite only. The pellets heated in N2 did not increase in mechanical strength during heat-treatment due to the lack of CaSO4 formation in the inert atmosphere. However, SEM analysis indicated that sintering did occur at the higher temperatures in N2. A decrease was observed in the compressive strength values obtained in air at temperatures from 900 °C to 1100 °C. Reasons for the decreased compressive strengths may include increased porosity, decomposition of CaSO4, and changes in the characteristics of the aluminosilicate phases.