Publication Date

Summer 2017

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Ali Oguz Er (Director), Wieb Van Der Meer, and Steven Gibson

Degree Program

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Degree Type

Master of Science


This study presents a simple way of obtaining hydrogen gas (H2) from various ranks of coal, coke, and graphite using nanosecond laser pulses. Powder samples of coal and graphite with and without water were irradiated with 1064 nm and 532 nm pulses from an Nd: YAG laser for 45 minutes under air and argon atmospheres. It was observed that 532 nm laser pulses were more effective than 1064 nm pulses in gas generation and both were nonlinearly correlated with respect to the laser energy density. Mainly hydrogen (H2) and carbon monoxide (CO) were observed. The H2 to CO ratio shows that the highest efficiency rank was the anthracite coal, with an average ratio of 1.4 due to its high fixedcarbon content and relatively high hydrocarbon amount. Coal samples were characterized by scanning electron microscope (SEM), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, Thermogravimetric analyzer (TGA), and calorimeter. Graphite was used as a pure carbon source to study the possible reactions of gas yielded during irradiation process. The amount of H2 produced was negligible when graphite powder was exposed under the air and argon atmospheres. On the other hand, H2 was obtained from irradiation of graphite powder in the presence of water due to a possible carbon-water reaction. When coal powders were irradiated under air and argon atmosphere, the amount of produced H2 increased drastically compared to graphite due to the presence of hydrocarbons in coal. In addition, theoretical simulations by a standard finite difference method supported experimental observations.


Oil, Gas, and Energy | Other Physics | Physics