Differential thermal analysis (DTA) of low-rank coals of high lignite to subbituminous rank from coal mines of Pakistan is
reported. The studies carried out in dynamic oxygen atmosphere indicate that the exothermic reactions occur between 300 and
650°C and that the samples undergo stepwise oxidation of the organic matter rather than a continuous process as indicated
by the pattern of shoulders from 250 to 350°C accompanying the main peak around 450°C. The effect of heating rate, particle
size and volatile content was also studied in relation to oxidation. The results show that the increase in heating rate from
10 to 80 deg min−1 results in a marked shift in all the events in the DTA curve towards higher temperatures. As for the effect of particle size,
the DTA records of 100–75, 150–100, 250–150 μm and greater than 250 μm fractions show that the magnitude and position of shoulder
peaks are more sensitive to changes in particle sizes compared to the main peak. The curves recorded to study the effect of
changing volatile content of samples between 30–40% indicate a complex pattern of shoulders accompanying the main peak. In
general, the number of shoulder peaks increases with increasing volatile content of samples but their positions do not follow
any trend. The DTA curves recorded in nitrogen contain ill-de-fined oxothermic effects over the 300–750°C temperature range.
These curves consist of an endothermic peak around 150°C, two exothermic shoulders in the temperature region 300–400°C and
a large broad exothermic whip between 500 and 700°C. The heating rates have similar effects as in oxygen while the particle
size do not influence the results.
It has been concluded that the organic matter in the coals studied here is extremely heterogeneous with different burning
characteristics; as a result it is very difficult to quantify energy changes associated with poorly resolved exothermic events
along the DTA curve. The effects also dominate in N2 atmosphere thus making identification of mineral matter difficult. The overall pattern of DTA events in oxygen can be correlated
with the heating rate, particle size and volatile content of samples.