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  #1  
Old 05-22-2005, 08:00 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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What is "number nine coal"?

In the song, 16 Tons, the singer claims on the day he was born he loaded "16 tons of number nine coal." What does "number nine" mean? Does it designate quality, or size of lumps, or what?
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  #2  
Old 05-22-2005, 08:47 PM
monkeyfist monkeyfist is offline
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I did a Google search.

Number Nine Coal is also used in the songs:

"Nine Pound Hammer"

That nine pound hammer that killed John Henry
Ain't a gonna kill me, ain't a gonna kill me.
And when I'm long gone just carve my tombstone
Out of number nine coal, out of number nine coal.

"Coal Tattoo"

I've got no house and I got no job, just got a worried soul
And a blue tattoo on the side of my head left by the number nine coal. Left by the number nine coal.


It is referred to here
an online geology article
Quote:
For some time, miners had followed the custom of naming the main pay zones of minerals, and numbering the splits, as in “Pocahontas Number Nine Coal” or “the Great Gossan Lead” for example.
Another web referrence is here FRANK GATSKI article
Quote:
Gatski came by his toughness honestly. Born in Farmington, West Virginia, in the heart of the soft coal country on March 18, 1923, he grew up in Number Nine Coal Camp, one of those rugged Allegheny hamlets where you're either tough or you're nothing.
There are a few more referrences to a number nine coal camp/mine but I have no idea what it means.

This is perplexing indeed. Anyone out there have the answer?
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  #3  
Old 05-22-2005, 08:48 PM
Unregistered Bull Unregistered Bull is offline
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I believe that it is a mine number like XYZ Coal Company Mine No.9.

http://members.fortunecity.com/folkfred/sixteen2.html and http://members.fortunecity.com/folkfred/sixteen.html describes a disputed origin of the original song.

16 Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford is one of my favorite songs along with another great mining song Big, Bad John by Jimmy Dean.
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Old 05-22-2005, 08:52 PM
Cunctator Cunctator is offline
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My first thought was that it referred to the size of the coal. However, this fact sheet from the Australian Coal Association suggests that coal is classified by its degree of metamorphism. There's no mention of size.
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  #5  
Old 05-22-2005, 08:59 PM
monkeyfist monkeyfist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered Bull
I believe that it is a mine number like XYZ Coal Company Mine No.9.

http://members.fortunecity.com/folkfred/sixteen2.html and http://members.fortunecity.com/folkfred/sixteen.html describes a disputed origin of the original song.

16 Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford is one of my favorite songs along with another great mining song Big, Bad John by Jimmy Dean.
Neither of these links makes any statement concerning the origin/definition of the "number nine coal." In fact, the first says it was originally, "number four coal."


But yes, the song is a great one. It’s still affecting and powerful to this day.
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  #6  
Old 05-22-2005, 09:10 PM
Unregistered Bull Unregistered Bull is offline
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The sites listed were listed mainly as a little off topic jaunt.
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Old 05-22-2005, 09:19 PM
monkeyfist monkeyfist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered Bull
The sites listed were listed mainly as a little off topic jaunt.
I was interested in the "number four coal" reference actually. I wasn't complaining about your post. I hope it wasn't taken that way.
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  #8  
Old 05-22-2005, 09:20 PM
Unregistered Bull Unregistered Bull is offline
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After Googling "no.9 coal", it appears that it's probably a type of coal.

http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2002NC/fin...ract_32747.htm

http://www.msha.gov/FATALS/2002/FTL02c20.HTM
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  #9  
Old 05-22-2005, 09:36 PM
monkeyfist monkeyfist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered Bull
After Googling "no.9 coal", it appears that it's probably a type of coal.

http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2002NC/fin...ract_32747.htm

http://www.msha.gov/FATALS/2002/FTL02c20.HTM
It appears in both of these that the no.9 is referencing the mine or particular vein of coal. This is analogous to the geology article I linked to above.

There seems to be a more substantial and significant reference here though, based on its use in more than one song of woe concerning coal mining.
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  #10  
Old 05-22-2005, 09:46 PM
Unregistered Bull Unregistered Bull is offline
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http://www.msha.gov/FATALS/2003/Over...FO2003-C28.pdf

Look at all the No. references in the above as well as the below link:

http://www.dmm.org.uk/colliery/h015.htm

Both chock full of No.'s, but I believe that the song must be referring to coal from a particularly numbered coal seam. I think.
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  #11  
Old 05-22-2005, 10:11 PM
Una Persson Una Persson is offline
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It's referring to the coal seam in the State of Kentucky, not the "degree of metamorphosis" (also known as "rank"), nor the size, nor the Btu content, nor anything else except possibly a mine, as mine names and seam names sort of blur when you're in that region. Another popular number is "Pittsburg #8 seam", which is sometimes called "#8 coal".

Coal seams go by a variety of names and numerical designations - in Western Kentucky, there's also a Number 10, 11, 12, 13...13 is nearest the surface. Sometimes the numbers make no apparent sense, and you will get 1, 2, 5, 3, 7, 4, in that order from shallowest to deepest. Sometimes they have Quaint Olde names.

I work with this stuff on a daily basis, and I've also answered this question on here at least a couple of times before.
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  #12  
Old 05-22-2005, 10:16 PM
2nd Law 2nd Law is offline
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had to know Una would have the answer to this one!
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  #13  
Old 05-22-2005, 10:17 PM
Una Persson Una Persson is offline
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Here - the KGS has a diagram of where Number 9 coal lies and some more information about it.

http://kgsweb.uky.edu/olops/pub/kgs/mc12_12.pdf
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Old 05-22-2005, 10:20 PM
Una Persson Una Persson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2nd Law
had to know Una would have the answer to this one!
Hey, long time no see, entropy!
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  #15  
Old 05-22-2005, 10:28 PM
2nd Law 2nd Law is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Una Persson
Hey, long time no see, entropy!
Hey, Coalgoddess!

I don't post on the boards often, but I read them all the time.
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  #16  
Old 05-22-2005, 11:10 PM
monkeyfist monkeyfist is offline
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The references to the "number nine coal" in the three songs above (post #2) infer to me that either this coal was a particularly difficult type of coal to mine, or the number nine coal vein was an infamously dangerous or brutal vein. I am only guessing though, based on those song lyrics.

Merle Travis seems to be the first to use the number nine coal in a song in the two songs, “16 Tons” and “Nine Pound Hammer,” both written in 1946 [http://www.ernieford.com/Sixteen%20Tons.htm] . Billy Ed Wheeler uses it later in his “Coal Tattoo,” 1963 [http://users2.ev1.net/~smyth/linerno...8498Disk4.htm].

Interestingly, “Nine Pound Hammer” was a folk song about the railroad prior to Merle Traivis’ rewriting it and changing it into a coal miner ballad [http://www.dylanchords.com/38_toom/doorway.htm]. None of the other lyrics for this song online include the bit about the “number nine coal” tombstone until after Merle Travis’ version.

In another recording of “16 tons”, by George Davis the “number nine coal” is named the “number four coal.” Davis claims to have written the song in the 1930’s, prior to Travis’ version [http://members.fortunecity.com/folkfred/sixteen2.html].

It seems that Merle Travis, who was from Kentucky, ( Una Persson, although George Davis was also from Kentucky) is the originator of the “number nine coal” representing some sort of especially heinous coal. The popularity of his songs probably influenced the later Billy Ed Wheeler, who was from West Virginia, or maybe Wheeler’s documented travels in the Kentucky area [http://users2.ev1.net/~smyth/linerno...rBillyEdd.htm] influenced his use of the Kentucky-local “number nine coal.”
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  #17  
Old 05-22-2005, 11:27 PM
monkeyfist monkeyfist is offline
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Una Persson,
I read the info you provided about the Springfield (W. Ky. No. 9) Coal. Not a miner myself (shocking, I know), I am wondering if the description of this particular vein is indicative of a tougher than normal mining situation and if this would lead to the mythical toughness of the "number nine coal" and the miners that mine it.
Specifically the following:

“coal is usually overlain by an immediate roof of hard, black shale (miners’ “slate”), which commonly contains “slips,” a miners’ term for slickensides … probably the single most common geologic obstacle encountered during mining of the Springfield coal”

“In some areas, the coal itself may contain very hard, brown carbonate masses called “coal balls.” .. They can be a significant nuisance to mining, since they can stop a continuous miner and cause excessive wear on bits.”

“Rotated and deformed bedding formed by ancient failures of channel margins, called “paleoslumps,” is also common. … Because of the deformed and high angle of bedding, such features are very
difficult to support underground”

“Springfield commonly rests on a well-developed underclay … Floor heave has been documented where the underclay is thick”
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  #18  
Old 05-22-2005, 11:31 PM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Una Persson
It's referring to the coal seam in the State of Kentucky, not the "degree of metamorphosis" (also known as "rank"), nor the size, nor the Btu content, nor anything else except possibly a mine, as mine names and seam names sort of blur when you're in that region. Another popular number is "Pittsburg #8 seam", which is sometimes called "#8 coal".

Coal seams go by a variety of names and numerical designations - in Western Kentucky, there's also a Number 10, 11, 12, 13...13 is nearest the surface. Sometimes the numbers make no apparent sense, and you will get 1, 2, 5, 3, 7, 4, in that order from shallowest to deepest. Sometimes they have Quaint Olde names.

I work with this stuff on a daily basis, and I've also answered this question on here at least a couple of times before.
OK, we know what it is. Now there is the question of Why? What difference does it make any difference to me as the operator of a steam generating plant (hypothetical of course) whether I use #9 or #8? I assume the coal from the two mines is different and contains different amounts of things like sulphur. Your post makes it look like I can't tell anything much about the coal based on that number.

So are the coal miners just using trade jargon for the hell of it?
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  #19  
Old 05-23-2005, 08:17 AM
Una Persson Una Persson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyfist
Una Persson,
I read the info you provided about the Springfield (W. Ky. No. 9) Coal. Not a miner myself (shocking, I know), I am wondering if the description of this particular vein is indicative of a tougher than normal mining situation and if this would lead to the mythical toughness of the "number nine coal" and the miners that mine it.
Specifically the following:

“coal is usually overlain by an immediate roof of hard, black shale (miners’ “slate”), which commonly contains “slips,” a miners’ term for slickensides … probably the single most common geologic obstacle encountered during mining of the Springfield coal”

“In some areas, the coal itself may contain very hard, brown carbonate masses called “coal balls.” .. They can be a significant nuisance to mining, since they can stop a continuous miner and cause excessive wear on bits.”

“Rotated and deformed bedding formed by ancient failures of channel margins, called “paleoslumps,” is also common. … Because of the deformed and high angle of bedding, such features are very
difficult to support underground”

“Springfield commonly rests on a well-developed underclay … Floor heave has been documented where the underclay is thick”
The short answer is, probably not. Number 9 seam coal is not known in my industry experience and historical background to be any more or less difficult, dangerous, or especially nasty to mine than any other coals. In the Kentucky region, Central Appalachian, and Northern Appalachian region, all of the conditions you note above are found in most seams and mines, and some are quite a bit nastier, looking at my #9 info here, than that. Shoot, when I was down in Mexico working as a consultant at a coal mine last month we saw all of the same conditions, excepting "coal balls" (as those were not liable to form given the morphology). Western US coal does not typically suffer from the same conditions, but then at the time the song was written and popular, Western coal production was a tiny fraction of Eastern Appalachian production.

Underground coal mining at the time was a rough, tough, nasty, deadly business no matter what seam and what mine you were in. Since I know of no real thing that made the Number 9 seam especially worse than any other, I have to guess the choosing of the seam is coincidental. It could be that the artist had a family Member(s) or acquaintence(s) who worked that particular seam.
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Old 05-23-2005, 08:32 AM
Una Persson Una Persson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Simmons
OK, we know what it is. Now there is the question of Why? What difference does it make any difference to me as the operator of a steam generating plant (hypothetical of course) whether I use #9 or #8? I assume the coal from the two mines is different and contains different amounts of things like sulphur. Your post makes it look like I can't tell anything much about the coal based on that number.

So are the coal miners just using trade jargon for the hell of it?
Eiyyy...I teach a course on this that lasts up to five days. I think I'll stick to a 5-minute answer, since no one will even remember it tomorrow anyhow.

What I mean is that the number itself is not important unless you know the context of the use. Different seams do have different properties, sometimes substantially different. Within a particular coal bed or coal region (thinking Eastern US/Appalachian, mind you) the primary differences between, say, hypothetical seam X and seam Y are most likely to be:

* Percentage of rock and waste in the coal (from the ceiling, floor, and rocky/boney seams that cross the coal)
* Sulfur content (largely, in the East, a result of iron pyrites)
* Moisture content (largely, in the East, a result of the bed and ground conditions).

*Traditionally (thinking pre-1980)*, in many instances, however, it's not the rock and debris directly that tells a plant operator they don't want one coal over another from within a specific bed, it's the cost. And a thinner, rockier bed is much, much more expensive and troublesome to mine than a thin bed. Below 4 feet thick and the difficulty goes up on a sharp curve, as does the cost. From an indirect standpoint, the cost also goes up if the mine has a rock and moisture specifications to meet (such as, no more than 15% rock/waste and no more than 10% moisture), in which case coal cleaning and drying may be needed.

Nowadays, the equation is much, much more complicated, taking into account everything from fuel-bound nitrogen to mercury content. Note as well I'm talking about the decision between two similar coals in the same bed, just in different seams. Comparing different coals, different beds, different mines, etc. is much more complicated and is what I usually get paid to do.

The seams are often numbered by geologists who found the beds. They do core drilling and a lithographic stratification, and usually number the beds from bottom to top. Because beds can "flow" into one another, or seams can "dry up" and return a kilometer or so away, sometimes the numbers go out of order. Depending on the rock formations it can be somewhat complicated. Coal miners don't like "complicated", so those beds are likely to sit in that big pile of "not economically recoverable" reserves we have.
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  #21  
Old 07-14-2010, 12:12 AM
larry shindel larry shindel is offline
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alliteration

So for all the veins of interesting and deep analysis it sounds like musician's poetic-choice. Given a former version mentions number foar coal. Like the Beetles: "Number nine, number nine, number nine ..."
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  #22  
Old 07-14-2010, 07:15 AM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Una Persson View Post
It's referring to the coal seam in the State of Kentucky, not the "degree of metamorphosis" (also known as "rank"), nor the size, nor the Btu content, nor anything else except possibly a mine, as mine names and seam names sort of blur when you're in that region. Another popular number is "Pittsburg #8 seam", which is sometimes called "#8 coal".

Coal seams go by a variety of names and numerical designations - in Western Kentucky, there's also a Number 10, 11, 12, 13...13 is nearest the surface. Sometimes the numbers make no apparent sense, and you will get 1, 2, 5, 3, 7, 4, in that order from shallowest to deepest. Sometimes they have Quaint Olde names.

I work with this stuff on a daily basis, and I've also answered this question on here at least a couple of times before.
One of the most interesting things about the Dope is how often things I was taught in my youth are wrong. I was told - by a science teacher - that it referred to the hardness of the coal. Since I was a kid and teachers were never wrong, this is what I've believed all my life. This is what makes coming here so much fun.
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  #23  
Old 07-14-2010, 07:44 AM
Una Persson Una Persson is offline
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Nope - while coal in a particular seam in a particular region of a particular basin could be especially hard, there is no direct link. Coal hardness is also something which is difficult to measure.

1) There is a "hardness" in terms of a Mohs hardness, which is very rarely used and of little practical value (with US anthracite generally being harder than bituminous which is harder than sub-bituminous which is harder than lignite...note this may not hold true in other parts of the world, for reasons which I won't go into).

2) There is also the practical hardness or "grindability" of the coal, which is usually measured by a lab test involving a small grinder and which generates a number called the Hardgrove Grindability Index. This is a dimensionless number which tends to range from 35-60 for US coals, with really difficult to grind coals being 35 or less, and really easy to grind coals being 55 or higher.

3) Finally, there is also a pseudo "hardness" which is determined by the abrasiveness of the coal, which is actually a function of the inherent and external minerals which are supplied with the coal - typically (in the US - other countries use a variety of methods) this is estimated by an index like the so-called "quartz index", which is silica content - 1.5*alumina content (on a dry, ash-only basis). However, there are numerous variations on that index even within the US, and completely different ones as well.

But no, the seam number does not have any direct correlation with the hardness.
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  #24  
Old 07-14-2010, 07:53 AM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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Oh I wasn't doubting you at all - I know you know your stuff. I was just relating why I still enjoy coming here after nearly 10 years.

I wonder how many other things my teachers made up?
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Old 07-14-2010, 08:56 AM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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There was in years gone by a set of descriptors on a coarseness/fineness consistency basis used for the degree to which coal was pulverized for varying uses. Terms such as "stove coal" or "pea coal" referred not to the grade of coal but to its consistency on a cobble/pebble/sand-grain sort of scale. I found this near-defunct terminology online here.
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Old 07-14-2010, 09:26 AM
Darth Panda Darth Panda is offline
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Una -

any idea if Number 9 is met coal or steam coal?

In the electirc business, we usually just break out East App, West App, Powder River, and Illinois Basin. We mostly care about SO2 (high for the scrubbed plants, low for unscrubbed); heat content (obviously) and price. MTR or not matters - mostly as it applies to ash content and politics.

I'm guessing the met guys are looking at some different things.
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Old 07-14-2010, 09:45 AM
Icerigger Icerigger is offline
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Question, when coal is burned in a power plant what form is it in? Crushed to powder, large chunks, small pieces like Kingsford charcoal?
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Old 07-14-2010, 09:56 AM
Darth Panda Darth Panda is offline
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Originally Posted by Icerigger View Post
Question, when coal is burned in a power plant what form is it in? Crushed to powder, large chunks, small pieces like Kingsford charcoal?
Most of the modern plants crush them into a powder, some units use 'cyclone' furnaces that burn 2 inch or so sized chunks. And some newer units are being built for gassification of the coal that will actually make the plant more like a Combined Cycle gas plant than a coal plant, with the potential for better emissions removals technology.
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  #29  
Old 07-14-2010, 11:06 AM
Una Persson Una Persson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Panda View Post
Una -

any idea if Number 9 is met coal or steam coal?

In the electirc business, we usually just break out East App, West App, Powder River, and Illinois Basin.
East and west App? Don't you mean North and Central? While there is a "West" region to the Appalachian production region (which is typically high-sulfur, high-iron bituminous coal) and I guess the North, Central, and South could be lumped together as "East", in my nearly 2 decades of work it's very rare that I hear the terms west and east.

While you can coke a lot of coals, generally speaking #9 is not metallurgical coal.

Quote:
Question, when coal is burned in a power plant what form is it in? Crushed to powder, large chunks, small pieces like Kingsford charcoal?
Pulverized coal plants in the United States, which make up most of the large utility coal plants, tend to crush coal to a consistency of 60-80% passing through a 200 mesh screen, which means about a 74-micron hole. In other words, very fine - it feels like rough talcum powder when I grab it. Stoker furnaces, which probably outnumber pulverized coal units and which are typically used for small applications, can burn coal sized as large as 2 inches (or even 3 or more inches in rare cases). Cyclone combustors tend to burn coal sized from 0.5-inch to 1.5-inch, although some work with larger pieces. Which size of coal is ideal for a cyclone combustor is a bit of a balancing act, as you do not want combustion to happen too soon (and overheat the cyclone barrel) or too late (and get huge amounts of unburned coal blown into the slag or in the fly ash). Fluidized bed boilers work with a range of sizes which are often 1 to 2-inch - this also depends upon the type of bed material which is used. It's sort of an involved question.
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Old 07-14-2010, 11:49 AM
Darth Panda Darth Panda is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Una Persson View Post
East and west App? Don't you mean North and Central? While there is a "West" region to the Appalachian production region (which is typically high-sulfur, high-iron bituminous coal) and I guess the North, Central, and South could be lumped together as "East", in my nearly 2 decades of work it's very rare that I hear the terms west and east.
Yes - bit of brain hiccup there... [ETA: although, honestly, our usual term terms in my group are high sulfur NS, lower sulfur NS, high sulfur CSX, and low sulfur CSX - just because that's how we usual view pricing (and we look at everything in $/mmbtu, so heat content doesn't really matter)]

I was just looking through my old NS Horsepower guide and I see Mine Number 1131 as having the name:

US #9

It's is Gary, WV, in the Pocahantas District - owned by Raw Coal Mining Co.

Think there's any chance the songs are referring to this mine?

Last edited by Darth Panda; 07-14-2010 at 11:53 AM..
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  #31  
Old 07-14-2010, 12:11 PM
jbaker jbaker is offline
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Merle Travis was from Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, about 200 miles from the start of the larger and better-known coal field in the Kentucky Appalachians and about 400 miles from Gary, W.V. Muhlenberg County is in the heart of the Western Coal Field and is perhaps best-known outside Kentucky for the reference in Paradise, which begins, "Daddy, won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County."
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  #32  
Old 07-14-2010, 02:15 PM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Panda View Post
I was just looking through my old NS Horsepower guide and I see Mine Number 1131 as having the name:

US #9

It's is Gary, WV, in the Pocahantas District - owned by Raw Coal Mining Co.

Think there's any chance the songs are referring to this mine?
"If you'd like to have a logical explanation
How I happened on this elegant syncopation,
I will say without a moment of hesitation
There is just one hole
Fit for number nine coal
Gary, West Virginia,
Gary West Virginia,
Not Louisiana, Paris, France, New York, or Rome, but--
Gary, West Virginia,
Gary, West Virginia,
Gary West Virginia,
My home sweet home."
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  #33  
Old 07-14-2010, 06:30 PM
Darth Panda Darth Panda is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Polycarp View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Panda
I was just looking through my old NS Horsepower guide and I see Mine Number 1131 as having the name:

US #9

It's is Gary, WV, in the Pocahantas District - owned by Raw Coal Mining Co.

Think there's any chance the songs are referring to this mine?
"If you'd like to have a logical explanation
How I happened on this elegant syncopation,
I will say without a moment of hesitation
There is just one hole
Fit for number nine coal
Gary, West Virginia,
Gary West Virginia,
Not Louisiana, Paris, France, New York, or Rome, but--
Gary, West Virginia,
Gary, West Virginia,
Gary West Virginia,
My home sweet home."
Awesome, US #9 it is then, I'd say - I knew that book would come in handy one of these days.
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  #34  
Old 07-14-2010, 08:42 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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My roomie the blacksmith says that specific coals are looked for because of their levels of impurities, and how they can positively or negatively affect whatever project they are working upon.
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  #35  
Old 07-14-2010, 09:40 PM
Una Persson Una Persson is offline
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Yeah, that's pretty much the way it is in the coal, power, and metallurgical industry world-wide, and what I've studied for nearly 20 years now.
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  #36  
Old 07-16-2010, 12:52 AM
waterj2 waterj2 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Una Persson View Post
Eiyyy...I teach a course on this that lasts up to five days. I think I'll stick to a 5-minute answer, since no one will even remember it tomorrow anyhow.
And yet, here we are five years later...
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  #37  
Old 07-16-2010, 01:11 AM
Tapioca Dextrin Tapioca Dextrin is offline
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Join Date: Dec 1999
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If you mix #9 coal into some sort of dilute paste, could you use it as an aphrodisiac?
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