Principal Investigators:
Eung Ha Cho and Ray Y. K. Yang
Chemical Engineering
(304) 293-2111 Ext. 2433


  The utilization of coal as a feedstock to produce carbon materials is very much hampered by the presence of its organic sulfur content. However, the organic sulfur is very difficult to remove. It is generally accepted that only two methods have capability to remove the organic sulfur rather effectively; one is with a melt of sodium hydroxide/potassium hydroxide at high temperatures (Gravimelt Process) and the other is with chlorine chemicals. However, the Gravimelt Process contaminates the coal structure, and its decontamination and the regeneration of the reagents may be insurmountable problems in terms of economic feasibility. Chlorine chemicals also chlorinate the coal structure and the removal of organic sulfur is not high enough to produce a premium coal or feedstock. It is proposed that organic sulfur be leached with hypochlorite using cupric amine as a catalyst. Hypochlorite is the predominant chlorine derivative at high pH's. The catalysis of cupric amine was found during 1990s in leaching of gold with hypochlorite and other oxidants. We will conduct two kinds of consecutive experiments. In the first, coal will be leached in a reactor with a solution containing hypochlorite and cupric amine. In the second, the leached coal will be hydrolyzed in hot sodium carbonate solution, which is believed to cleave the organic sulfur bond from coal and thus further reduce the sulfur content. Leached coal and hydrolyzed coal samples will be analyzed particularly for organic sulfur and chloride content. The data will be analyzed to determine the desulfurization potential through the two consecutive experiments and also the chlorination/dechlorination of the coal matrix through each of the two experiments.


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