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Proceedings of a Conference on Problems in the Utilisation of Small Coals

Nature volume 155, page 95 (27 January 1945) | Download Citation



IT is inevitable that incombustible matter accompanies coal arriving at the pithead and in varying degrees of association, depending on the quality of the seam. From this point follows a series of cleaning processes—dry and wet—which in general aim at the removal of dirt and fine coal. Water is usually necessary, and as a consequence the colliery must dispose of the unwanted residue of the cleaning process which contains an undesirable proportion of water. This residue, commonly known as 'slurry', consists of coal which contains too much incombustible matter, too much water and at the same time is too fine in size to have commercial value. This combination of physical conditions imposes such difficulties that remedial measures to convert 'slurry' into salable fuel are in normal times unremunerative; but this is only a relative term, for the quantity of this waste of potential value is enormous—many millions of tons—which in times of scarcity is actually used. It may be that the days when this fuel can be so lightly discarded as hitherto have already passed for ever. It must be recognized that the mining industry has in the past given much attention to the problem, as will be evident from the present report on the conference on the utilization of small coals, at which twenty-eight papers were presented. These give a measure of work done, while a visit to the surface workings of a colliery will reveal the scope of the task of disposing of the wet, dirty fine coal which is produced. There is another if somewhat different problem in the disposal of fine coke.

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