Laser pyrolysis of coal yields a variety of gaseous and solid products. Irradiation with high energy from a pulsed ruby laser produces (1) a gas having a high concentration of hydrogen and acetylene and (2) a solid having approximately the same elemental composition as the original coal. Low-energy irradiation with a continuous co2 laser produces (1) a complex mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbon gases and (2) a low-ash solid having a slightly lower c/h ratio than the parent coal. The solid has several interesting characteristics including a very low density and a high solubility in benzene. A high-resolution mass spectrum of this material revealed that it is a very complex mixture of organic molecules with many of the characteristics of coal. The solid has also been investigated by gel-permeation chromatography and catalytic dehydrogenation.
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