Nano-scale rare earth distribution in fly ash derived from the combustion of the fire clay coal, kentucky

James C. Hower, Dali Qian, Nicolas J. Briot, Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez, Madison M. Hood, Ross K. Taggart, Heileen Hsu-Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Fly ash from the combustion of eastern Kentucky Fire Clay coal in a southeastern United States pulverized-coal power plant was studied by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and selected area electron diffraction (SAED). TEM combined with elemental analysis via energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) showed that rare earth elements (REE; specifically, La, Ce, Nd, Pr, and Sm) were distributed within glassy particles. In certain cases, the REE were accompanied by phosphorous, suggesting a monazite or similar mineral form. However, the electron diffraction patterns of apparent phosphate minerals were not definitive, and P-lean regions of the glass consisted of amorphous phases. Therefore, the distribution of the REE in the fly ash seemed to be in the form of TEM-visible nano-scale crystalline minerals, with additional distributions corresponding to overlapping ultra-fine minerals and even true atomic dispersion within the fly ash glass.

Original languageEnglish
Article number206
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Coal combustion products
  • Lanthanides
  • Monazite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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