Analysis And Comparison Of Inertinite-derived Adsorbent With Conventional Adsorbents


To increase U.S. petroleum energy-independence, the University of Texas at Arlington (UT Arlington) has developed a coal liquefaction process that uses a hydrogenated solvent and a proprietary catalyst to convert lignite coal to crude oil. This paper reports on part of the environmental evaluation of the liquefaction process: the evaluation of the solid residual from liquefying the coal, called inertinite, as a potential adsorbent for air and water purification. Inertinite samples derived from Arkansas and Texas lignite coals were used as test samples. In the activated carbon creation process, inertinite samples were heated in a tube furnace (Lindberg, Type 55035, Arlington, UT) at temperatures ranging between 300 and 850°C for time spans of 60, 90, and 120min, using steamand carbon dioxide as oxidizing gases. Activated inertinite samples were then characterized by ultra-high-purity nitrogen adsorption isotherms at 77 K using a high-speed surface area and pore size analyzer (Quantachrome, Nova 2200e, Kingsville, TX). Surface area and total pore volume were determined using the Brunauer, Emmet, and Teller method, for the inertinite samples, as well as for four commercially available activated carbons (gas-phase adsorbents Calgon Fluepac-B and BPL 4 x 6; liquid-phase adsorbents Filtrasorb 200 and Carbsorb 30). In addition, adsorption isotherms were developed for inertinite and the two commercially available gas-phase carbons, using methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) as an example compound. Adsorption capacity was measured gravimetrically with a symmetric vapor sorption analyzer (VTI, Inc., Model SGA-100, Kingsville, TX). Also, liquid-phase adsorption experiments were conducted using methyl orange as an example organic compound. The study showed that using inertinite fromcoal can be beneficially reused as an adsorbent for airorwater pollution control, although its surface area and adsorption capacity are not as high as those for commercially available activated carbons. Implications: The United States currently imports two-thirds of its crude oil, leaving its transportation system especially vulnerable to disruptions in international crude supplies. UT Arlington has developed a liquefaction process that converts coal, abundant in the United States, to crude oil. This work demonstrated that the undissolvable solid coal residual from the liquefaction process, called inertinite, can be converted to an activated carbon adsorbent. Although its surface area and adsorption capacity are not as high as those for commercially available carbons, the inertinite source material would be available at no cost, and its beneficial reuse would avoid the need for disposal. Supplemental Materials: Supplemental materials are available for this article. Go to the publisher's online edition of the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association for properties of the commercial activated carbons tested in this study. © 2012 A&WMA.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


National Science Foundation, Grant 0911720

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

2162-2906; 1096-2247

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





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Publication Date

01 Jan 2012

PubMed ID