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Washed coal: Current Affairs 

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Washed coal

Relevance: Environment

Context: Environment Ministry recently notified to scrap the mandatory requirement of supplying washed coal to all thermal units more than 500 km away from the coal mine.

What is Coal washing?

  • Coal that comes from a mine is a complex mixture of materials with a large variety of physical properties. In addition to the coal itself, pieces of rock, sand, and various materials are contained in the mixture. Thus, before coal can be sold to consumers, it must be cleaned.
  • Coal washing involves using water and mechanical techniques and relies on gravity and the difference of density between coal and its’ impurities, which are usually more densely packed due to the fact that they are inorganic.
  • Washing coal increases its efficiency and quality, therefore increasing its price. Coal washing can also help to reduce emissions from burning.
  • Coal washing is accomplished by one of two major processes- density separation or by froth flotation. Both processes depend on the fact that the particles of which a coal sample is made have different densities.
  • When water is added to the sample, particles sink to various depths depending on their densities. The various components of the sample can be separated from each other.


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