How clean is coal really? Wouldn’t I be better off using electricity, gas or HFO?

As electricity is typically generated from coal fired plants, using electricity simply moves the emission site from your factory to the power station. Gas is known to be a cleaner but more expensive option and HFO is also expensive and typically emits a much blacker smoke from the stacks.


Aren’t all boilers designed to use A grade peas?

Coal fired boilers used to be designed to burn A grade coal as it was both affordable and readily available in the past. Nowadays many different grades and types are burnt very successfully in different boiler houses around the country.


Isn’t all coal the same?

No coal is graded according to its energy content (CV) as well as its size. An A grade coal has a CV higher than 27,5 MJ/kg, a B grade between 26,5 -27,5 MJ/kg, a C grade between 25,5 – 26,5 MJ/kg etc. A common misconception occurs when people discuss “export quality coal”. Richards Bay Coal Terminal typically exports 2 different grades measured at 6500 kcal/kg and 5500 kcal/kg. This equates to 27.21 MJ/kg (a B grade) and 23,03 MJ/kg (an F grade). To convert kcal/jg to MJ/kg multiply by 0.004187.


Can coal be stored out in the open or does it have to be contained?

Coal can be kept on an open stockpile / area as it will not lose any of its value / properties if exposed for short periods of time.


How is coal categorized in terms of sizing? Terminology?

  • Duff( 0mmx6mm)
  • Grains (6mmx12mm)
  • Peas (6mmx25mm)
  • Small nuts (20mmx40mm)
  • Large nuts (40mmx60mm)
These are typical sizes but do vary slightly depending on the mine.


Should coal possess duff (fine) content, and if so, what is an acceptable percentage?

All coal will possess a certain amount of fines content due to handling during processing and loading. The amount is determined by the HGI (hard grove index or hardness) of the coal seam that is being mined. An acceptable norm is 5% of the gross weight.


What are the benefits of using a higher grade coal versus cheaper alternatives and the impact this would have on my boiler in the long run?

Using a higher grade coal will not necessarily ensure better efficiencies as compared to a lower grade product as boiler settings are all important. In a perfect world with perfect settings, consumption of a higher grade coal will be less and maintenance spend on the boiler should be reduced. Boilers that are functioning above an 80% output should consider using higher graded products to optimise their efficiencies as these tend to drop off when the demand on the boilers exceeds this threshold.


What control measures do you have in place in terms of back up and quality?

Our Flamite Cato Ridge depot acts as a back up to our KZN based clients - we have the capacity to store 20 000 tons of coal at any one time.
Our clients in other provinces have peace of mind knowing that we draw from a number of sources and have many trucks on the road at any one time to ensure that we can reroute should you run into an emergency.
With the sheer number of mines and suppliers on our books, there is no need to have the added overhead (and cost to our client) of a depot Gauteng as any number of sources can be drawn on as an when required.


What is the process of obtaining a license for putting up a new boiler?

Please contact one of our reps who would be happy to assist you in this regard.

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