Attenuated total reflection (ATR) spectroscopy in the infrared has been applied to the study of the surface structure of various rank coals. No special time-consuming pretreatment of the sample is required which could effect the results. The sample is simply contacted with a reflection element. The method offers a possibility of a spectral study of the surface of the coal samples with graining up to several dozens of micrometers, and the scattering effect is not observed. In the low-temperature (130°C) coal oxidation process a formation of carbonyl and carboxyl groups (the band at 1700 cm<sup>−1</sup>) and a change in intensity for the rest of the bands have been observed. Oxidation of low-rank coals causes changes mainly in the aliphatic groups of the coal, while in the case of the highest-rank coal the changes in the aromatic structures are more marked.

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