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Argonne Samples

The Argonne Premium Coal Sample Bank consists of eight coals, including lignite, subbituminous coal, high volatile, medium volatile, and low volatile bituminous coal, as well as a liptinite-rich, an inertinite-rich, and a coking coal. Coals are stored in sealed glass ampoules for distribution or 5-gallon carboys and have been stored under carefully controlled conditions. The eight coal samples were selected to represent significant differences among the available coal types mined in the United Sates and to maximize our understanding of the fundamental properties of coal. Representative splits from each coal sample are chemically and physically as identical as possible, and will be stable over a long period of time.

Coals in the Argonne Premium Coal Sample Bank
Sample Seam ASTM Rank State Ash, dry S, dry C, daf H, daf V.M. daf Vit. % VRo %
APCS-1 Upper Freeport mvb PA 13 2.3 86 4.7 31.6 71 1.16
APCS-2 Wyodak-Anderson subbit WY 9 0.6 75 5.4 49.0 89 0.32
APCS-3 Illinois #6 hvCb IL 15 4.8 78 5.0 47.4 85 0.46
APCS-4 Pittsburgh #8 hvAb PA 9 2.2 83 5.3 41.7 85 0.81
APCS-5 Pochontas #3 lvb VA 5 0.7 91 4.4 19.5 89 1.68
APCS-6 Blind Canyon hvAb UT 5 0.6 81 5.8 48.2 87 0.57
APCS-7 Lewiston-Stockton hvAb WV 20 0.7 83 5.3 37.3 73 0.89
APCS-8 Beulah-Zap lig ND 10 0.8 73 4.8 49.8 - 0.25

Sample Collection and Processing

With help from the U. S. Geological Survey, individual coals were identified for collection. The samples were each collected in about 1 to 1 1/2 ton quantities, placed in steel drums, purged with argon and taken to Argonne National Laboratory for processing. After transfer to a nitrogen-filled enclosure, the coals were crushed and pulverized to -20 mesh, and the entire ton-sized batch was mixed. Half of the batch was placed in sealed 5-gallon pails for regrinding to -100 mesh and subsequent packaging. About 80 percent of each half-ton was sealed in 5-gallon glass carboys for long-term storage and the remaining sample was sealed in amber borosilicate ampules for distribution to researchers.


The APC samples underwent three types of analyses to indicate homogeneity of mixing, elemental and proximate analysis data, and stability of the samples as well as integrity of the seals. For the homogeneity analysis, a series of 39 samples was taken during the processing of each coal sample to determine any differences in composition during the processing and packaging of the thoroughly-mixed material. Additional samples were submitted to a range of analysis, including proximate, ultimate, major, and minor elements in the ash, heat content, forms of sulfur, and maceral analysis.

Ordering and Assistance

Coal samples from the Sample Bank are available to all members of the coal research community. The Institute can provide assistance in identifying samples that match specifications or that best suit the research needs of the requester. Coals from the collection are distributed at a reasonable cost plus shipping and handling in two different mass/particle size quantities).

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