Characterisation of brown coal humic acids and modified humic acids using pyrolysis gcms and other techniques

W. R. Jackson, G. D. Bongers, P. J. Redlich, G. Favas, Y. Fei, A. F. Patti, R. B. Johns

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13 Citations (Scopus)


It has been proposed that Victorian brown coal can be considered as a two-component structure - a lignocellulosic "host", containing various amounts of weakly bound or entrapped "guest" material together with very small amounts of inorganic and/or mineral matter. The latter predominantly consists of wax esters and/or terpenoid material. In this paper we describe attempts to gain structural information regarding the more complex, "host" component of the coal. Our initial model compound has been humic acid that can be readily obtained from the coal by alkaline extraction. It has been found that "pure" humic acid, free from material associated with the "guest" components of the coal, can be obtained by a highly selective, low-yielding alkaline extraction. This humic acid has been studied by nmr spectroscopy and pyrolysis gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy (py-gc/ms). The products arising from py-gc/ms have been compared with those obtained from similar pyrolysis of whole coals. Alkylation of humic acids using alkyl halides in the presence of base has been successfully carried out and reactivity of the resulting materials compared with those of the parent coal and humic acid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-240
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Coal Geology
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1996


  • Brown coal
  • Humic acids
  • Pyrolysis gcms

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