University of Kentucky CAER Home


Organic Compounds from Coal Utilisation

AUTHOR: Lesley L. Sloss and Irene M. Smith
DATE: October 1993

This review addresses the issue of organic emissions from coal use. The different types of organic emissions are summarised with a brief indication of any limitations in their sampling and analysis. An introduction to the theory of formation of organic compounds during combustion is followed by details of measured organic emissions from various coal combustion systems. The effects of coal types and of different combustion parameters on organic emissions are discussed. Organic compounds in gaseous and aqueous discharges from other coal uses - coking, gasification and liquefaction - are also considered.

A large number of organic compounds arise from sources such as coal utilisation. These follow a number of physical and chemical pathways in the environment. Some may be deposited close to the site of emission whilst others are carried long distances. Some may react to form secondary pollutants. The complexity of this atmospheric chemistry does not allow a complete understanding of the pathway of all organic emissions from an individual source. It is therefore only possible to examine the combined environmental effects of a number of organic compounds from many different sources.

It appears that organic emissions from the clean and efficient use of coal do not pose a threat to human health. However, inefficient, uncontrolled use of coal gives rise to organic emissions which can be detrimental to health. More data are required on organic emissions, as well as their pathways and effects in the environment.