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Compositional data analysis of coal combustion products with an application to a Wyoming power plant

September 20, 2018

A mathematically sound approach for summarizing chemical analyses of feed coal and all its combustion products (bottom ash, economizer fly ash, and fly ash) is presented. The nature of the data requires the application of compositional techniques when conducting statistical analysis, techniques that have not been applied before to the study of partitioning of elements between the coal that enters the boiler and the associated coal combustion products. A collection of descriptive and inferential compositional techniques was used to analyze the coal combustion products from a Wyoming power plant burning Paleocene Wyodak–Anderson coal. The significance of the fluctuation in ash composition is determined by using a Hotelling’s T-squared test and bootstrapping. Tree displays allow for visualization of the progressive effect of filters in removal of chemical species based on their geochemical composition. Results indicate that, in general, as the suspended combustion products entrained in the flue gases move closer to the stack, chemical species are removed from the combustion gas, starting with minerals associated with elements having the lowest volatility.