Developing a Novel Ultrafine Coal Dewatering Process

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Dewatering fine coal is needed in many applications but has remained a great challenge. The hydrophobic-hydrophilic separation (HHS) method is a powerful technology to address this problem. However, organic solvents in solvent-coal slurries produced during HHS must be recovered for the method to be economically viable. Here, the experimental studies of recovering solvents from pentane-coal and hexane-coal slurries by combining liquid-solid filtration and in-situ vaporization and removing the solvent by a carrier gas (i.e., drying) are reported. The filtration behaviors are studied under different solid mass loading and filtration pressure. It is shown that using pressure filtration driven by 20 psig nitrogen, over 95% of solvents by mass in the slurries can be recovered, and filtration cakes can be formed in 60 s. The drying behavior was studied using nitrogen and steam at different temperatures and pressures. It is shown that residual solvents in filtration cakes can be reduced below 1400 ppm within 10 s by 15 psig steam superheated to 150C, while other parameter combinations are far less effective in removing solvents. Physical processes involved in drying and the structure of solvent-laden filtration cakes are analyzed in light of these results.



hydrophobic-hydrophilic separation, coal beneficiation, solvent recovery, steam drying