Natural Resources Research
School of Engineering
Australian Education International, Australian Government, AEI
Characterization of coal micro-structure and the associated rock mechanical properties are of key importance for coal seam exploration, coal bed methane development, enhanced coal bed methane production and CO2 storage in deep coal seams. Considerable knowledge exists about coal chemical properties, but less is known about the nanoscale to the micro-scale structure of coals and how they change with coal strength across coal ranks. Thus, in this study, 3D X-ray micro-computed tomography (with a voxel size of 3.43 µm) and nano-indentation tests were conducted on coal samples of different ranks from peat to anthracite. The micro-structure of peats showed a well-developed pore system with meso- and micro-pores. The meso-pores essentially disappear with increasing rank, whereas the micro-pores persist and then increase past the bituminous rank. The micro-fracture system develops past the peat stage and by sub-bituminous ranks and changes into larger and mature fracture systems at higher ranks. The nano-indentation modulus showed the increasing trend from low- to high-rank coal with a perfect linear relationship with vitrinite reflectance and is highly correlated with carbon content as expected. © 2019, The Author(s).
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