Structural Features of a Bituminous Coal and Their Changes during Low-Temperature Oxidation and Loss of Volatiles Investigated by Advanced Solid-State NMR Spectroscopy
J.-D. Mao, A. Schimmelmann, M. Mastalerz, P. G. Hatcher and Y. Li
Quantitative and advanced 13C solid-state NMR techniques were employed to investigate (i) the chemical structure of a high volatile bituminous coal, as well as (ii) chemical structural changes of this coal after evacuation of adsorbed gases, (iii) during oxidative air exposure at room temperature, and (iv) after oxidative heating in air at 75 °C. The solid-state NMR techniques employed in this study included quantitative direct polarization/magic angle spinning (DP/MAS) at a high spinning speed of 14 kHz, cross polarization/total sideband suppression (CP/TOSS), dipolar dephasing, CH, CH2, and CHn selection, 13C chemical shift anisotropy (CSA) filtering, two-dimensional (2D) 1H−13C heteronuclear correlation NMR (HETCOR), and 2D HETCOR with 1H spin diffusion. With spectral editing techniques, we identified methyl CCH3, rigid and mobile methylene CCH2C, methine CCH, quaternary Cq, aromatic CH, aromatic carbons bonded to alkyls, small-sized condensed aromatic moieties, and aromatic C−O groups. With direct polarization combined with spectral-editing techniques, we quantified 11 different types of functional groups. 1H−13C 2D HETCOR NMR experiments indicated spatial proximity of aromatic and alkyl moieties in cross-linked structures. The proton spin diffusion experiments indicated that the magnetization was not equilibrated at a 1H spin diffusion time of 5 ms. Therefore, the heterogeneity in spatial distribution of different functional groups should be above 2 nm. Recoupled C−H long-range dipolar dephasing showed that the fraction of large charcoal-like clusters of polycondensed aromatic rings was relatively small. The exposure of this coal to atmospheric oxygen at room temperature for 6 months did not result in obvious chemical structural changes of the coal, whereas heating at 75 °C in air for 10 days led to oxidation of coal and generated some COO groups. Evacuation removed most volatiles and caused a significant reduction in aliphatic signals in its DP/MAS spectrum. DP/MAS, but not CP/MAS, allowed us to detect the changes during low-temperature oxidation and loss of volatiles. These results demonstrate the applicability of advanced solid-state NMR techniques in chemical characterization of coal.