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Calorific Value of Coal

Saurabh Priyadarshi
M.Sc. (Geology), MMEAI, MGMI, QCI

Chief Geologist



KP/COAL/004/16 August2012
Calorific Value of Coal


Coal is generally analysed to determine its physical, chemical, thermal, mechanical properties like size consist,
proximate values, ultimate values, calorific value and HGI.

Calorific Value (CV) is an important thermal property of coal which indicates the amount of heat energy that
could be liberated on combustion of a specific quantity. The other important thermal properties of coal are
plastic, agglutinating and agglomerating indices. These analyses enable determination of suitable end use
industry like metallurgical, thermal or cement.

This knowledge piece is a scientific compendium ranging from energy or calorie entrapment in coal to its
variation with rank, definition and determination of CV, units of expression and interunit conversion of CV,
understanding effect of analyses bases of CV , role of CV in evolution of coal grading system ,impact of
moisture on CV and impact of CV on coal quantity required for power generation and cost.

Key Words: Coal, Calorific Value, Rank, kcal/kg, UHV, GCV, AR, AD GCV, UHV, Calorimeters.


1. Energy Entrapment. content, hardness and Calorific value in

descending order.
Coal originates from plant debris buried some
280-350 millions years ago in swamps. The Each coal type has specific chemical
contemporaneous solar energy irradiated the composition.
plants causing photosynthesis which promoted
cellular entrapment of energy in form of carbon, Low rank coal is low in carbon and high in
hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen. oxygen while high rank coal is high in carbon and
low in oxygen.
Prolonged burial of plant debris under dynamic
heat and pressure metamorphosed them into High carbon coal has high heat energy or
different ranks of coal which release heat energy calorific value.
on combustion.

This heat energy is called calorific value. 3. Definition of Calorific Value (CV)

Calorific Value/ CV / heat of combustion (Hc0) is

2 Types of Coal and Rank defined as the amount of heat energy released
on burning a unit mass of coal in a bomb
The plant debris under varying regimes of heat calorimeter with oxygen under specific
and pressure is metamorphosed and transforms conditions.
into following four types.
The terms Fuel Content, Heating Value, Heat of
a. Lignite, Combustion can be used interchangeably with
b. Sub-bituminous, Calorific Value.
c. Bituminous and
d. Anthracite.
4. Determination of CV
Each of the above coal type has a specific
degree of coalification / rank, maturity, carbon CV of coal is determined by two methods.

1. Direct Method.

KP/COAL/004/16 August2012
Calorific Value of Coal

2. Indirect Method. The major difference between GCV/HHV and

UHV/LHV/NCV is the water vapour or latent heat
4.1. Direct Method 1 produced in the former.

A Bomb Calorimeter is used under static 4.1.3. Why is UHV/LHV/NCV less than
(isothermal) or adiabatic conditions in a lab or a GCV/HHV?
plant to determine CV.
NB: The term Bomb is misleading but is generally used for
such equipment. Technically, the term decomposition a. UHV/LHV/NCV assumes that all water
vessel is more appropriate. CV can also be determined by
other apparatus like Solution Calorimeter, Differential vapors or latent heat produced during
Scanning Calorimeter, Titration Calorimeter, Gas combustion leave uncondensed and can
Calorimeter and Reaction Calorimeter. not be recovered.

b. GCV/HHV assumes that the all water

4.1.1. Procedure. vapors or latent produced during
combustion are condensed and can be
a. Take about 1g of coal sample in a recovered.
crucible and place inside a Bomb
Calorimeter filled with 30 bar of oxygen 4.2. Indirect Method 2
(Quality: technical oxygen 99.98%).
In this method the proximate and ultimate
b. Ignite coal sample through a cotton analysis of coal is carried out to determine the
thread connected to an ignition wire radicals listed in (a) and (b) and inputs of (b) are
inside the steel container. used in formula (i) to calculate approximate CV.
c. During combustion, ensure that core a. Proximate analysis: moisture %, ash%,
temperature in the Bomb Calorimeter volatile matter % and fixed carbon % by
goes upto 1000oC and pressure upto difference.
approximately 200 bars for few
milliseconds. Use : Fixed carbon gives a rough estimate of CV
of coal.
d. Measure the heat and express the heat
units as described in Table 1. b. Ultimate analysis: Carbon %, Hydrogen
%, Nitrogen %, Oxygen % & Sulphur %.
Table 1: Expression of Heat
Dulong Equation: CV = (144.4 %[C]) + (610.2 % [H])-
(65.9 % [O]) + (0.39 % [O]2) (i)
Test Objective of Test Expression of Heat
Facility (CV/Heat Units )

4.3. Does CV vary with Analyses Methods?

To measure heat units
produced on burning unit
mass of the coal at constant The CV determined directly is greater and closer
Laboratory. volume in oxygen including GCV/HHV
the heat of condensation of
to the real figure as compared to indirect method
steam/ water vapour. since direct method accounts for all vapors or
heat of condensation.
Plant To measure heat units
produced on burning unit 5. Expression of CV.
mass of the coal at constant
volume in oxygen excluding NCV/LHV/UHV
water vapor. The CV of a substance is generally expressed by
the units- calories/ per gram.

In Asia, Australia and New Zealand, SI system of

4.1.2. Difference between GCV/HHV and kcal/kg is used.

KP/COAL/004/16 August2012
Calorific Value of Coal

In Europe and the Americas following units are in The bases are suffixed to the analyses either
vogue. (Table 2). as a superscript or within braces.

Table 2: Expression of CV.

SN System Unit Acronym
Superscripts: GCV /GCV /GCV /GCV /GCV /
1 f-p-s Btu/lb British thermal unit per pound.

2. MKS MJ/kg Mega Joule per kilogram. Braces : GCV (adb)/UHV (arb)

3. MKS kcal/kg kilocalorie per kilogram

6.1. Meaning of Bases.
4. MKS kJ/kg kilo Joule per kilogram
a. AR (As received): The coal sample is
analyzed as received. It contains Total
Moisture (surface and inherent) and ash
5.1. Interunit Conversion 3
forming minerals.
The CV of coal expressed in different units is
b. AD (Air Dry) or MF (Moisture Free): The
interconvertibel (Table 3).
coal sample contains only Inherent
Moisture and ash forming minerals.
Table 3: Interunit Conversion Factors.

From To Multiply By Factor c. DB (Dry Basis): The coal sample is

exclusive of Total Moisture (surface and
kcal/kg MJ/kg 0.004187 inherent) but contains ash forming
kcal/kg minerals.
Btu/lb 1.8
kJ/kg 4.187
d. MAF (Moisture and Ash Free) or DAF
MJ/kg kcal/kg 238.8 (Dry and Ash Free): The coal samples
MJ/kg exclude Total Moisture and ash forming
Btu/lb 429.9 minerals.
Btu/lb kcal/kg 0.5556
Btu/lb 5
7. Evolution of Coal Grading in India
MJ/kg 0.002326
kJ/kg Kcal/kg kJ/kg .23884
Indian coals have been graded on basis of ash
and moisture content using several methods
GCV NCV - Equation:
(Kcal/kg) (Kcal/kg) GCV=NCV+53H (ii) since 1924. As the methods were dated, Indian
Where H = % of hydrogen government advised CFRI in 1962 to study the
present in the coal sample prevalent grading system and recommend a
including hydrogen of
moisture and of water of suitable method commensurate with times.

7.1. CFRI Study

6. Bases of Coal Analyses. CFRI undertook an extensive study of Indian

coal Industry and practices and came out with
their recommendations. Some of the aspects of
Coal analyses is reported under different the study are as follows.
conditions or bases like AR, AD, MF, DB,
MAF and DAF. 7.1.1. Distribution: Indian coals are distributed
mostly along the Central and Eastern basins (Fig

KP/COAL/004/16 August2012
Calorific Value of Coal

Fig 14: Distribution of Indian Coal Table 5: Pre 1962 Mining Scenario.

SN Scenario Study Observations

1 Mining Method Approximately 85% of coal came
from underground and rest from
open cast mines.
2 Quality Qualities of Underground coals were
3 Average quality Ash%=:20-25; Moisture%=2-5; GCV
(kcal/kg) = 5000-5550.
4 Key Consumers Railways(steam locomotives)
5 Key Parameter Loss of heat by steam engines
monitored by through ash in coal.
6 Derivation 1 The constant 8900 came from the
highest dmmf CV of coking coals of
Jharia coalfield.
7 Derivation 2 The factor 138 comes from low
moisture and ash level.

7.2. CFRI Recommendation
7.1.2. Characteristics: Indian coals are of drift
origin which causes widespread variation in Based on the study of Indian Coal Industry and
quality. Indian coals range from sub-bituminous associated aspects, CFRI recommended UHV
to bituminous and lignite rank. system for coal grading for Indian coal (specific
formula for high and low moisture coals)
Some other characteristics are mentioned in
Table 4. High moisture coals
UHV = 8900 138(A+M) (iii)
Table 4: Coal Characteristics. Where A: Ash % and M: Moisture %

SN Characteristics
Low moisture low volatile coal
1 Drift origin.
UHV = 8900 138(A+M) 150(19.0- VM) (iv)
2 Drift origin ensures inclusion of mineral matter during Where A: Ash % and M: Moisture %, VM: Volatile Matter %
Where ash and moisture % are determined as
3 Due to mineral matter, ash content is high.
per IS: 1350-1959 standards after equilibrating
4 Ash content ranges from 35% to 50%.
coal sample at 60% relative humidity and 40C
5 The inherent ash content is intricately embedded in coal temperature.
and cant be removed normally.

6 Removal of inherent ash content in coal requires coal NB: 1.In case of coal with moisture less than 2% and volatile content less
beneficiation. than 19%, the UHV shall be the value arrived as above, reduced by
150 kcal/kg for each 1% reduction in volatile content below 19%
fraction pro-rata.
7 The washability curves of coal show that reduction of ash
below a certain level results in generation of proportionate
rejects, reduction of yield due to NGM and is costly. 8. Correlation between UHV and GCV 5 ?

NGM: Near Gravity Material Indian government advised MoC in 2001-2003 to

determine whether any correlation exists
7.1.3. Mining Scenario between GCV and UHV of Indian Coal in order to
firm up a valid scientific reason to migrate from
The pre 1962 mining industry scenarios are prevalent CFRI recommended UHV system to
listed in Table 5. the international practice of GCV system of coal

CFRI undertook study of six major coal fields of

India, i.e. MCL, SECL, WCL, CCL, NCL and

KP/COAL/004/16 August2012
Calorific Value of Coal

SCCL.In the process 103 ROM samples were To nullify the effect CFRI developed a co relation
drawn for analyses and study. between GCV and UHV
GCV=2111+0.6812x UHV (v)
The analyses of coalfield wise samples are
presented in (Table 67/2) NB: India continued with the UHV system even after the GOI instituted two
major studies well up to December 2011.
Table 67/2: Coalfield Weighted Average
9. UHV System Coal Grading System in India.
Coalfields Moist% Ash% Ash+Moist% GCV UHV
60%RH 60%RH 60%RH kcal/kg kcal/kg Government of India classified Indian Non
Min Max Avg Min Max Avg Min Max Avg Min Max Avg Min Max Avg Coking (NC) coals into 7 grades on basis of UHV
WCL 1.5 9.1 5.3 18.9 60.8 39.9 27.4 65.7 46.6 2104 5379 3742 167 5119 2476 for marketing in India through notifications.
SECL 2.2 9.1 5.7 15.0 43.2 29.1 21.0 50.0 35.5 3555 6345 4950 2000 6002 4001 (Table 7)
NCL 5.2 10 7.6 17.4 42.4 29.9 24.6 48.0 36.3 3541 5545 4543 2276 5505 3891
MCL 2.5 8.3 5.4 30.0 52.8 41.4 34.8 57.8 46.3 2585 4460 3523 924 3380 2152 This was in vogue till December 2011
CCL 0.8 8.4 4.6 23.5 46.5 35.0 27.1 52.0 39.6 3280 5635 4458 1724 5160 3442
SCCL 4.5 8.9 6.7 17.1 46.5 31.8 24.9 41.6 33.3 3311 5681 4496 1779 5464 3622 Table 7: UHV System

Grade Useful Heat Corresponding Gross Calorific

Value (UHV) Ash% + Value GCV (Kcal/
Coalfield wise analyses were studied by CFRI (Kcal/Kg) Moisture % Kg)
UHV= 8900- at (60% RH & (at 5% moisture
.From the study, CFRI inferred that intra coal 138(A+M)
40 C) level)
field scatters between GCV and UHV is far less A Exceeding 6200 Not exceeding Exceeding 6454
than that in inter coal field. (Fig 2 7/2) 19.5
B Exceeding 5600 19.6 to 23.8 Exceeding 6049
but not but not exceeding
Fig 2 7/2: Scatter Pattern of GCV and UHV exceeding 6200 6454
C Exceeding 4940 23.9 to 28.6 Exceeding 5597
Scatter :GCV and UHV in Indian Coalfileds but not but not
exceeding 5600 exceeding. 6049
6000 D Exceeding 4200 28.7 to 34.0 Exceeding 5089
but not but not Exceeding
4543 4458 4496 exceeding 4940 5597
3742 E Exceeding 3360 34.1 to 40.0 Exceeding 4324
4001 3523
but not but not exceeding

3000 3622
exceeding 4200 5089
2000 2476
2152 F Exceeding 2400 40.1 to 47.0 Exceeding 3865
but not but not




exceeding 3360 exceeding. 4324


G Exceeding 1300 47.1 to 55.0 Exceeding 3113
but not but not exceeding
exceeding 2400 3865
Intra Mine Diff between GCV and UHV(kcal/kg) Inter Mine GCV(kcal/kg)
Inter Mine UHV(kcal/kg) NB: 1.Coal from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Nagaland are
not graded. 2. Coking coal used for steel industry grade-I (ash<15%) and
grade-II (ash 15-18%).3. Further classification for semi-coking, weakly coking
coal is done on ash %age and UHV.
CFRI further evaluated their inference and
attributed the scatters to the prevalent (UHV) 10. Conversion
grading system, wherein;
Under UHV system UHV-GCV- NCV can be
UHV system assumes that Ash and converted from one to another using the
Moisture values are mostly similar following equations:
intracoalfiled but varies inter coalfields.
UHV= 8900 - 138(A+M) (vi)
GCV system considers organic and GCV= (UHV + 3645 -75.4 M)/1.466 (vii)
NCV = GCV - 10.02M (viii)
petrographic composition of coal is
almost similar intracoalfiled but varies (UHV, GCV and NCV are in kcal/kg, (A is % Ash; M is % Moisture).
with intercoalfiled.

KP/COAL/004/16 August2012
Calorific Value of Coal

11. GCV System of Coal Grading in India. Comparative standout differences between the
UHV regime and Present Mining Practices are
From January 20126 Coal India Limited (CIL) presented (Table 9.) .The appreciation of the
migrated from Useful Heat Value (UHV) system comparatives will facilitate resolution of the
of grading, marketing and pricing non-coking dilemma.
(NC) coal in vogue since 1979 to Gross Calorific
Value (GCV) system from 1st January 2012. Table 9: Differences.

Under GCV system the NC coals have been SN UHV Regime Present Mining Practice
1 The figure 8900 in the This figure 8900 is
classified into 17 bands of 300 KCal/Kg each formula {UHV= 8900 - irrelevant today as coal is
ranging from 7000 kcal/kg to 2200 kcal/kg (Table 138(A+M)} came from excavated from several
8 7/1).vis--vis 7 grades in the erstwhile UHV highest dmmf CV of coking coalfields, i.e. Mahanadi, Ib
coals of Jharia coalfield valley, North Karanpura
system. only. etc..
2 Coal quality presumably Coal quality varies.
Table 8 7/1 GCV System. consistent.
2.1 Ash%: 20-25 Ash%: >20-45
SN Grade Kcal/kg 2.2 Moisture%: 2-5 Moisture%: 6-11
2.3 GCV(kcal/kg): 5000- GCV(kcal/kg): 3500-
GCV( Min) GCV(Max)
5550 5000
1 G1 7000 3 Figure 138 in the formula Weightage factor of 138 is
{UHV= 8900 - 138(A+M)} not applicable to present
2 G2 6701 7000 applicable to low range of day high range of moisture
moisture and ash. and ash.
3 G3 6401 6700
4 Coal primarily consumed Coal consumed by modern
4 G4 6101 6400 by steam engine of industries which use more
railways-one of the most efficient stoker fired system.
5 G5 5801 6100 inefficient steam generation
6 G6 5501 5800
5 UHV determined indirectly GCV determined directly by
7 G7 5201 5500 by deducting ash and a bomb calorimeter.
8 G8 4901 5200 6 UHV employed in India GCV employed almost
only for coal grading. globally for coal grading.
9 G9 4601 4900

10 G10 4301 4600 12.2 .Comparison: UHV vs. GCV

11 G11 4001 4300

12 G12 3700 4000 In UHV system the coal is classified into

7 grades ranging between 600 to 1100
13 G13 3400 3700
kcal/kg while in GCV system coal has
14 G14 3101 3400 been classified into 17 bands of 300
15 G15 2801 3100 kcal/kg each; which is much narrower
than UHV system.
16 G16 2501 2800

17 G17 2201 2500 Due to narrow calorific bandwidth in GCV

system the variation in coal quality shall
be far less than coals received under
12. Grading Dilemma: GCV or UHV? UHV system

Coal is a complex substance. An understanding Due to narrow GCV bandwidth

of coal, its exploitation and usage is necessary to consumers can chose coals of desired
resolve the dilemma as the DNA of any mineral grade and not end up paying for a coal in
grading system is encrypted in its origin, geology large grade band.
petrography, quality, mining technology and end
use etc. The graphic differences between GCV
and UHV grading system is presented in
Fig 3 7/1 .
12.1. UHV Regime vs. Present Mining Practice 5

KP/COAL/004/16 August2012
Calorific Value of Coal

Fig 3 7/1: Difference: GCV vs. UHV

Comparison: GCV vs.UHV Grade System
Rs/MT The combustible material in coal remains
unchanged right from the point of release
GCV(New ) Min

GCV(New ) Max
UHV(Old) Max (mines/stockyard/purchase point) to the point of
UHV(Old) Min
GCV(Old) Min consumption (power plant/steel plant/cement
plant etc) except for Total Moisture (TM) %.

GCV(Old) Max


TM in coal comprises Inherent Moisture (IM) and
Surface Moisture(SM). IM is locked up in the
molecular structure of coal and can be removed
only by heating to temperature over 1000C. SM
G1 G2 G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 G10 G11 G12 G13 G14 G15 G16 G17
lies on surface of coal and can be removed by
evaporation/prolonged exposure to atmosphere.

12.3. Dilemma Resolved: Its GCV Presence of moisture in any form reduces the CV
of coal as shown in Table 10.
From discussions in SN 11.1 and 11.2 it is
concluded that UHV system is dated and out of Table 10: Effect of Moisture on CV of Coal.
sync with present day mining practices. Figures
Metrics Point of Point of Consumption
and tables highlight GCV as an unbiased and Release (PoC)
contemporary system in terms of geology and (PoR)
consumer. Total Moisture(TM) % 12.0 8.0
Inherent Moisture (%) 2.0 2.0
Surface Moisture (%) 10.0 6.0
GCV system is relevant, scientific, ensures Calorific Value
conservation of mineral and provides value for GCV(kcal/kg) 4000
{(100-TM )/(100-TM
money to consumer as well as the supplier. }*GCV (ix)
12.4 India: Globally Aligned Coal Grading. 1. TM and 1. TM and GCV are
GCV are determined in lab.
determined Coal is spread out and
India embraced GCV grading system in 2012 - Remarks in lab. air dried to remove
after 33 long years and aligned itself with global Surface Moisture.
2. TM and 2. GCV is determined
coal grading system GCV are by applying Total
reported Moisture Correction
on AR and reported on AD
basis. basis.
12.5. Should India Continue with GCV?
From the above example it is observed that CV
GCV considers the potential energy /intrinsic of coal at point of release with high moisture is
energy for expression of energy content in coal lower than at the point of consumption due to
which is an important physical principle. reduction in moisture which causes increase in
combustibles per kilogram.
India should hold on to the GCV system and not
relent to cartels. India shall do well to voice its
scientific temper by seeking coal supplies for 14. Effect of Calorific Value on Coal Quantity and
industry specific use based on Ash, Moisture, Unit Cost of electricity.
Sulphur, HGI and HGI values.

Such secondary parameters should remain Coal provides energy to heat up boilers in a
contemporaneous with mining practice and end power plant. The energy comes from CV of coal.
usage. Hence CV of coal plays an important role in
design of boiler-turbine-generator and in firming
up quantity and quality requirements and in
13. Effect of Moisture on Calorific Value.

KP/COAL/004/16 August2012
Calorific Value of Coal

estimation of cost per unit of electricity 10765/20000=.538 kg /hr (xii)

Hence for 1000 MW/hr, coal quantity will be
Eg: Sample calculation for a 1000MW coal fired
.538 x1000 x1000 = 538000 kg/hr = 538000/1000=530.8 T/hr. (xiii)
power plant (All figures in 11.1 to 11.7 are
14.5. Coal Cost.
14.1. CV of Coal / Energy Content
Coal cost includes all expenses starting from
20000 kJ/kg* or 4760 kcal/kg GCV
mining to delivery of coal to the power plant.
(*Where 1kJ=.238 kcal).
Coal of CV 20,000 kJ or 4760 GCV (which is G9
14.2. Power Plant Efficiency. as per GCV grading system introduced in India
from January 2012) is marketed at Rs 1844/MT
In a power plant, energy conversion takes place
in 2 stages Hence the cost of coal required for 1000 MW
Power Plant/hr will be
Ist Stage: Boiler and Combustion Efficiency:
530.8 t x Rs 1844 /hr = Rs 978795.20 (xiv)
Efficiency of 88% on GCV basis. (This is the
normal value for a well optimized power plant.) 14.6 Unit cost of electricity generation.

2nd Stage: Steam Cycle Efficiency: A 1000 MW Power Plant produces 10, 00,000
units of electricity. Hence the cost of coal per unit
Modern Rankine cycle adopted in coal fired will be
power plants have efficiencies ranging between
Rs 978795.2/10, 00,000 = Rs 0.9787. (xv)
32 % to 42%.This depends on steam parameters
like pressure and temperature. Higher steam
15. Conclusion
pressures and temperatures in the range of 230
bars and 6000C respectively have efficiencies This KP is a one stop shop for all those who wish to
around 42%. For calculation lets consider know and those who need to specifics of mineral
Efficiency of 38%. exploration, mine planning, geology, quality control
and HSE. The present article is yet another
Hence overall Power Plant Efficiency contribution to the KYC (KYC (KNOW YOUR COAL)
38% of 88%=33.44% (x)

14.3. Heat Rate.

Heat rate is the amount of heat required to
produce one unit of electricity. One KW is
equivalent to 3600 / kJ/ hr.If energy conversion is
100% efficient then 3600 kJ will be required to
1. IKA Working of Bomb Calorimeter.
produce one unit of electricity.
2. Properties of Coal.
3. Coal Conversion facts.
Considering a Power Plant Efficiency of 33.44 %
4. Coal Initiative Report.
the heat rate would be
5. CFRI Diamond Jubilee Conference.
3600/33.44%=10765 kJ / kW / hr (xi) 6.2nd Ver. Coal Price 2012.
7. Tables and Graphs.
14.4. Coal Quantity 8. Revised Coal Price.

For producing 1 KW / hr with coal of CV 20,000

kJ/kg, coal quantity will be

KP/COAL/004/16 August2012
Calorific Value of Coal


Term Expression
CV Calorific Value
HGI Hard grove Index
1g one gram
oC Zero degree centigrade
% percent
GCV Gross Calorific Value
HHV Higher Heating Value
NCV Net Calorific Value
LHV Lower Calorific Value
UHV Ultimate Heating Value
(f-p-s foot-pound-second
MKS Meter, Kilogram, Second
Btu British thermal unit
MJ Mega Joule
Lb pound
Kg kilogram
kJ kilo Joule
SI System Internationale

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KP/COAL/004/16 August2012