Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy has been used to characterize the oxidation of a coking coal. The results demonstrate that the most important initial products of oxidation are carbonyl and carboxylic acid groups. Bands associated with carbon-oxygen single bonds, as in ethers or phenols, do not become prominent until the later stages of the oxidative process. Upon reaction with potassium in tetrahydrofuran a number of changes in the spectrum of both the oxidized and unoxidized coal become apparent. This reagent cannot be considered specific for cleavage of ether bonds, but can also lead to products usually associated with air oxidation.
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