Scanning Microscopy


In order to apply SEM-based automated image analysis (AIA) to the characterization of not only minerals in coal but to the coal itself, sample preparation methods need to be developed beyond common practice. A significant consideration is the degree of contrast achievable between the mount media chosen and the coal. Four low-atomic number materials (epoxy, polyethylene, polystyrene and carnauba wax) were compared for their potential as suitable mounting media for coal samples. Epoxy is satisfactory only for characterization of mineral particles since the contrast between epoxy and coal particles is negligible. Polyethylene or polystyrene have marginal application for use as mounting material for coal characterization due to limited contrast and sample preparation artifacts. Carnauba wax appears satisfactory as a mounting material since it provides good contrast with coal particles with minimal artifacts.

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