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Coalscan coal analysis
instruments for measuring coal quality

Coal is one of Australia's main export earners. Both suppliers and users need to know its composition accurately: suppliers so they can blend coal types to fulfil the terms of their contracts; users so they can maximise burning efficiency and comply with pollution regulations.

Coalscan was developed by the same researchers who were responsible for ore slurry probes. They applied similar techniques, plus some new ones, to the problem of analysing coal on a conveyor belt. Radiation emitters and detectors scan coal continuously as it passes by. Data from the detectors is analysed by computer to provide information on the coal's energy, water and ash content.

The three CSIRO researchers, plus the founder of the company that makes Coalscan, were awarded the 1992 Australia Prize for their valuable work: CSIRO estimates that Coalscan has increased the productivity of Australia?s coal industry by about $50 million per year. The instruments are made in Adelaide and sold to companies that process and use coal around the world.

Who Did It?
Key Organisations
Mineral Control Instrumentation Pty Ltd : design, manufacture

CSIRO Division of Mineral & Process Engineering : R&D

Australian Mineral Development Laboratories : R&D
Key People
Jim Howarth : scientist, entrepreneur
John Watt : scientist at CSIRO
Brian Sowerby : scientist at CSIRO

Further Reading
Inventive Australians
Ron Cull
Longman Cheshire, Melbourne, 1993, pp 120-123.

Scantech Coalscan technologies
Mineral Control Instrumentation Pty Ltd
Coalscan information
CSIRO Mineral Processing and Metal Production

Related Innovations
Ore slurry probe

The detector in the top right corner of the picture can continually analyse the amount of moisture and ash in coal on a moving belt. Courtesy Mineral Control Instrumentation Ltd.
ATSE Powerhouse Museum