Heating value, Coal, Coal Char and Tar, Fossil fuels, Biomass, Biomass char


Accurately measuring a fuel’s heating value is one of the first steps in the classification of a new fuel. Heating values are widely used in coal combustion research and are becoming more useful in other fuel types as well. Many different empirical correlations to predict heating values based on primary organic (CHONS) elemental composition are found in the literature, many of which were originally created to predict heating values of parent coal, and some of which have been extended for biomass. However, no correlations exist for heating values of coal chars and tars. Thirteen literature heating value correlations (10 model forms with 13 unique sets of coefficients) were evaluated for their predictive accuracy of a wide variety of fuel types, including 353 coals. This comparative analysis showed that the predictive capabilities of many of these literature models are very similar for coal-based fuels, with good correlation of coal char heating values. Correlation of coal tar heating values was hampered by the lack of heating value data. The choice of which model to use becomes more important for biomass fuels as well as for more unique fuel types like propellants and explosives, municipal solid waste, etc. The best model forms for each fuel type are suggested based on several statistical measures of fit.

Original Publication Citation

Richards, A., D. Haycock, J. Frandsen, and T. H. Fletcher, “A Review of Coal Heating Value Correlations with Application to Coal Char, Tar, and Other Fuels,” Fuel, 118942:1-16 (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.fuel.2020.118942

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date







Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering


Chemical Engineering

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor