Environment: Maceral analysis and microscopic evaluation of peat samples
The maceral analysis is a micro-petrographic determination method. The investigation of peat, as well as brown coal and lignites, is carried out according to microscopic respectively visual characterized basic components, the macerals. The composition of the peat provides information on the degree of decomposition (humification degree) and the calorific value.
The peats are air-dried and crushed gently. This is followed by embedding the material in cold-curing epoxy resin and the production of polished sections, whose examination take place with reflected light microscopy using the point-counter method (1000 counts per polished section). The maceral analysis is internationally defined by ISO 7404-33. The terminology corresponds to the "International Handbook of Coal Petrography" (International Committee for Coal and Organic Petrology - ICCP 1971, 1975 , 1985 , 1994).
In addition to the organic components, minerals such as quartz, iron compounds, carbonates, clays or biogenic components, like diatoms, can be determined in the maceral analysis. With regard to the minerals, iron compounds are in primary focus currently, as they pass from the dump through the waters due to groundwater resurgence and cause sludges which reduce, inter alia, the groundwater quality.