Coal/Ash Applied Petrology Laboratory
The Applied Petrology Laboratory is part of the Environmental and Coal Technologies Group. Research is conducted on the petrographic and geochemical characterization of Kentucky coals; the interaction of coal petrology with grinding and beneficiation properties; the petrology of carbons; the characteristics of natural and anthropogenic coal fires; and the petrology of coal-combustion by-products, particularly fly ash.
Research interactions outside of the CAER are maintained with coal producers and coal-burning utilities; faculty at several universities, state and national surveys including:
- University of Kentucky
- Morehead State University
- Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski
- Kentucky Geological Survey
- Indiana Geological Survey
- United States Geological Survey
- East Georgia College
- University of California-Irvine
- Stanford University
The petrology laboratory at the CAER was established by Gilbert Smith, one of the original associate directors, in 1977. Smith was trained in coal petrology by Aureal Cross, his advisor at West Virginia University, and by Gilbert Cady in the years Smith worked for the Ohio Geological Survey.
Jim Hower, a student of Alan Davis at Penn State, arrived in 1978 and joined Garry Wild in starting the coal petrographic research program at the center. Through the 1980's research focused on the characterization of Kentucky coals, with emphasis on the major economic coals; on the petrographic interactions with coal beneficiation; and on the characterization of coal liquefaction residues. Starting in the early 1990's, the emphasis shifted towards the characterization of coal combustion by-products (CCBs) from Kentucky power plants.
Based on the power plant survey, we determined major trends in the quality and production of CCB's. Further research has been conducted on the impact of low-NOx combustion on the petrography of fly ash and on the factors influencing the distribution of trace elements, with a current emphasis on mercury in fly ash and flue-gas desulfurization materials.
In addition to research, the petrology laboratory also provides analytical services. Typical services include:
- vitrinite reflectance and maceral analyses of coal;
- petrographic analysis of mixed coal, coke, tar, and sediments;
- petrographic analyses of CCBs;
- as well as more unusual analyses, such as the examination of material collected on air filters.
Collections housed at the CAER Petrology Laboratory include:
Contact: Jim Hower
Manager, Applied Petrology Laboratory
Center for Applied Energy Research
Dr. Hower's Professional Activites include:
- Editor-in-Chief of the Coal Combustion and Gasification Products Journal, which maintains its editorial offices at the CAER.
- Previous Editor-in-Chief (1998-2008) of the International Journal of Coal Geology, which maintained its editorial offices at the CAER.
- Technical Program Chairman of World of Coal Ash conference (2009, 2007, 2005); previously served as program chairman for the 2003 International Ash Utilization Symposium.
Publications of Interest:
- Interdisciplinary Studies of Peat
and Coal Origins
The Geological Society of America, Inc. Microform Publication 7
Edited by P.H. Given and A.D. Cohen
Published by The Geological Society of America, Inc.
- The Atlas of Coal Geology: a reference and learning resource, is available.
Coal Petrology from Scirus, a Service of Elsevier:
- Coal Petrology on the Scirus Topic Page is a wiki-like service for the scientific community with topic summaries, links to relevant literature and web sources are presented on a single page. The coal petrology topics page has been written by Dr. James C. Hower (University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research) and Dr. Maria Mastalerz (Indiana Geological Survey, Indiana University).