Variations in chemistry of macerals as refl ected by micro-scale analysis of a Spanish coal

M. Mastalerz, J. C. Hower, D. N. Taulbee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


An Oligocene lignite (Ebro Basin, Spain) and its density fractions were analyzed petrographically and with microscale techniques (electron microprobe and micro-FTIR) to gain insight into differences between individual macerals of low rank high-sulfur coal. The density of the alginite-dominated fraction is below 1.26g/cm3, and that of the huminite-dominated fraction is above 1.38g/cm3. Densities within 1.26-1.38g/cm3 represent mixtures of liptinite and huminite macerals. With regard to elemental composition, alginite has the highest carbon content (75.6% on average) and the lowest oxygen content (6.1% on average). Corpohuminite is characterized by the lowest carbon content (62.3% on average) and the highest oxygen content (21.5% on average). Nitrogen contents for corpohuminite and ulminite (~1%) are similar, but are signifi cantly lower in alginite (0.2% on average). Sulfur content is highest in alginite (13.4% on average), followed by corpohuminite (9.8%) and ulminite (7.7%). Functional group analysis documents large differences between macerals of the huminite and liptinite group, but also indicates differences between individual macerals within both the huminite and liptinite group. These differences are most notable in aromaticity, degree of aromatic ring condensations, and hydrocarbon potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-493
Number of pages11
JournalGeologica Acta
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013


  • Elemental composition
  • Functional groups
  • Lignite
  • Macerals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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