The carbonization properties are studied of two particular coals (Zontag Vlei and Metla coals) which are markedly different despite their similar coalification rank, maceral composition, and oxygen and exinite contents. These coals possess different structural features which influence their carbonization. A demineralizing pretreatment improves the properties of Metla coal. However, this is still inferior to the Zontag Vlei coal. O-alkylation of the Metla coal improves fusibility in single carbonizations and susceptibilities, equalling those of the Zontag Vlei coal. Preheat-treatment differentiates between the coals: Metla coal loses its susceptibility at lower temperatures. The chemical analyses of oxygen functionalities of both the original and preheated coals show that their hydroxyl groups behave differently in carbonizations at lower temperatures, indicating that oxygen functionality may be another influential factor. Hydrogen shuttling within the coal may be a third factor as it may remove the oxygen functionality.
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