Occurrence of uranium in Chinese coals and its emissions from coal-fired power plants

  • Yongsheng Zhang, Minglei Shi, Jiawei Wang, Jiabin Yao, Yan Cao, Carlos E. Romero, Wei-ping Pan
  • Fuel, February 2016, Elsevier
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.fuel.2015.11.014

uranium in Chinese coals and its emissions from coal-fired power plants

What is it about?

The uranium content from coal mines in China and its distribution in coal-fired power plant effluents was studied and reported in this paper. Chinese coal samples from eighteen coal mines were collected and analyzed for uranium. It was found that the uranium content for most of the coals was in the range from 1 to 3 mg/kg. Almost all the uranium in the coal concentrated in the fly ash (about 80%) and the bottom ash (about 10%). The uranium content in the flue gas was less than 1/1000 of the total elemental input, between 0.043 and 0.069 μg/m3, which is much lower than the typical concentration of mercury or arsenic in flue gas of coal-fired power plant.

Why is it important?

As the concern for environmental protection increases in China, the occurrence, distribution and impact of trace elements in coal needs to be studied. At the beginning of 2014, there was an unconfirmed rumor in China indicating that the haze in different parts of China was caused by uranium, which was released from coal combustion from coal-fired power plants, a so-called “nuclear haze” that sparked widespread concern in the society. There is a need to document uranium flue gas emission from coal-fired units, since that compared with studies of other trace elements in coal, only very limited data are available. This makes very difficult to confirm how much uranium is released to air from coal-fired power plants in China. Moreover, reports on the release characteristics of uranium from coal combustion and the occurrence and distribution of uranium from the different effluents in coal-fired power plants is also limited.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr. Yongsheng Zhang